Former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair believes Fernando Torres will thrive on the pressure of spearheading an exciting new-look Blues line-up this season.
The Spaniard seems certain to be given the task of replacing Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who left in the summer after inspiring the club to Champions League glory.
And Sinclair, who had eight years at Stamford Bridge in the 90s, says a new approach and new recruits Eden Hazard and Oscar can provide the service needed to finally get the best out of £50m man Torres.
“Fernando Torres will be the main striker,” Sinclair told West London Sport.
“We have integrated a lot of new players and a new pattern of play. With Didier Drogba leaving, we can no longer play the ball as early and hit the front man. With Didier you could do that and he just brings others into play.
“But we will have to tweak things; there will be more patience in the build up, trying to go through teams and there will be more matchwinners on the pitch trying to create opportunities for Fernando to get on the end of.
“It’s exciting. We have signed a lot of midfield players with an attacking mentality. It’s not defensive-minded in any way.
“The players brought in are ideally made to play that formation and play that sort of football. It’s the players who have been there before who need to adapt a bit more to Torres’ strength.
“The player that stood out in pre-season has been Eden Hazard. I am really looking forward to seeing him link up with Oscar, who had a fantastic Olympics,” the Lambeth-born Chelsea fan added.
“Obviously we still have Juan Mata and Ramires – and plenty of others too. It’s so competitive in the midfield area. There are about 15 players to choose from in those six attacking positions. It will be fascinating to see what happens.”
Ex-Blues centre-half turned right-back Sinclair has just signed a new one-year contract with Conference North side Colwyn Bay.
But the 40-year-old combines his now part-time career with his punditry work. And the club’s pre-season performances – although patchy – have left him in no doubt that Torres will have a new lease of life.
Sinclair was particularly encouraged by the Spaniard’s display and well-taken goal in the Community Shield game on Sunday.
“He impressed me against Manchester City,” Sinclair said.
“Fernando caused a well-established back four a lot of problems by getting on the ball, turning and running at them. He was drawing fouls all over the pitch and looked sharp and strong.
“He can play with his back to goal and bring people into play, but he is not as good as Drogba at it. How many are?
“That’s why we need to tweak the way we play. Torres wants to get on the end of things. His favourite thing is to be facing the opposition goal and getting at players.”
But it is not just form that matters. Sinclair feels Torres’ mindset is also key to re-establishing himself as a top striker.
“He has taken the responsibility of being the main man. He looks like he’s relishing it,” Sinclair added.
“Drogba being there has meant Torres has not been able to progress his career at Chelsea. Drogba has been so good that Fernando has been the number two.
“Now he is the number one, even if we get another centre-forward in. You can’t fault his pre-season. If he gets opportunities, he will score goals.”