Atletico Madrid forward Fernando Torres has quashed speculation that he could leave the club in January instead of fighting for playing time after the arrival of Diego Costa.
Reports in Spain recently claimed that Torres, 33, was planning to leave Atletico in the winter transfer window with offers to play in China and in the United States on the table. He has seen limited playing time under coach Diego Simeone this season.
However, Torres, tied to Atletico until June 2018, told AS TV: “I’m under contract and I hope it will not be just this one [season) but many more. That’s my only aim and my only motivation.”
Torres has made just one league start for the Rojiblancos but has come off the bench nine times in La Liga.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea forward has yet to score in Spain’s top flight this season.
“I just have to look at myself, work more, make the most of the minutes I get and give myself the opportunity to start in the next game,” he said. “That’s where I am right now — trying to earn a starting place and be the first choice for my coach.”
Torres is in his second spell with his boyhood club, who will be able to register new players in January following a FIFA transfer ban.
The former Spain striker has scored 30 of his 121 career goals for Atletico since returning to the Vicente Calderon in January 2015 but has fallen down the pecking order behind Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro, Luciano Vietto and Angel Correa.
The addition of his former Chelsea and Spain teammate Costa, who will be registered in January, could see Torres’ opportunities decrease even more.
“I know that each game can be my last with Atletico or maybe not,” Torres said. “I play as if it was my last because that’s how I feel, but considering how much I’ve had to fight to get playing time, I’m not going to throw in the towel.
“No one has given me anything for free. I arrived in the winter transfer window [from AC Milan] and although I scored goals, it wasn’t enough to play from the start. But I finished that season [2014-15] being a regular starter for the team. A similar thing happened the following season and I ended up playing. I’m here through my own merits and because of my performances.”
Torres says he dreams of starting with Costa and Griezmann in Atletico’s attack.
Costa returned to Atletico in September after three seasons at Chelsea.
“I hope it’s possible,” Torres said. “I see Costa very well. He’s had a long preseason but he has been training at the same rhythm as the rest of the team. He’s in very good shape. If he has decided to come it’s because he has a great commitment to Atletico and with this group of players.”
Torres, who has won two European Championships and one World Cup with Spain, said he has not thought about retirement.
“I don’t want to imagine the time when I have to stop playing,” he said. “I know that I could help the club with my experience [after retiring] but I hope that will be in many years to come.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.