West Brom manager Roy Hodgson has praised Chelsea striker Fernando Torres ahead of their Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Hodgson, who managed the Spaniard during a turbulent spell at Liverpool last season, said the striker was prevented from shining for the Reds while under his tutelage due to World Cup burnout.
“Fernando Torres is a top-quality player – and I fear I shall see that at close hand on Saturday,” Hodgson said.
“I think he needed a rest, that was for certain. Has the break done Fernando a bit of good? I am sure it has – it had been a long, long year.”
“I was unlucky at Liverpool that I caught him, and a few other players, on the back of a World Cup.”
Hodgson, 64, also cited injuries and Torres’ personal life as issues which caused the former Inter manager to miss out on the Spaniard’s best form but added that he is certain that Chelsea will see a return on their 50-million-pound investment.
“I caught him as a player, at the time, with quite serious injury problems. His wife was also having a baby, which was an important time in his life,” he continued.
“If you take that short period of time that we worked together, there were a lot of things going on in his life which had little to do with actual football that I couldn’t control but maybe had a little bit of an effect.”
“But I never doubted him as a person – or doubted him as a player.”
“It was bold of Chelsea to pay a big transfer fee for him when the consensus was he wasn’t at his best. But I always believed it was a move which would pay dividends.”