Should NYCFC Pursue Fernando Torres?

MADRID, SPAIN – DECEMBER 17: Fernando Torres of Atletico de Madrid strikes the ball during the Copa del Rey Round of 32 match between Club Atletico Madrid and CF Reus Deportiu at Vicente Claderon stadium on December 17, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

A recent report from our friends at NYCFC Nation raised the possibility of current AC Milan (loaned to Atletico Madrid) and Spanish forward Fernando Torres joining former striking partner and good friend David Villa at NYCFC this summer.

The story comes on the heels of earlier reports that Torres had a conversation with Villa about a possible move to the United States, including questions on buying a home and school systems for his children. Torres has been linked with the MLS and China, where he’d become one the highest paid players in the world, but Spanish outlet OkDario reported that the US would be his preferred destination and that NYCFC has pushed the hardest for him.

While NYCFC don’t have the international spots or cap space to make a deal now, Torres rumored summer move is possible in several ways. NYCFC can acquire further international spots, or offload an international player, to free a slot for Torres, but there is still the issue of the three DPs, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and Villa.

Villa isn’t going anywhere, and Pirlo is signed through the next two seasons (until December 2017), but Lampard’s contract is up in December of this year at the end of the season. It is entirely possible, as the LA Galaxy are rumored to have done that with Nigel De Jong, to sign Torres to a non-DP deal for the second half of the season, with the understanding that when Lampard comes of the books, he’d be bumped up to DP status.

Another aspect to consider is NYCFC’s rumored pursuit of Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas as well. NYCFC have a plethora of options at the forward position, with Villa, Patrick Mullins, Khiry Shelton, and Tony Taylor all vying for time on the field, unless some of those options move, it may be too much of a luxury to spend another DP contract on such a full position.

It is possible for the team to acquire both if they can find the international spots and keep Casillas under the DP threshold, but seems unlikely. Casillas may be a more interesting option as he’d certainly be a lower cost and is the same age as current keeper Josh Saunders, but will likely age better due to sheer talent level.

All of this raises the question of whether NYCFC should in fact pursue Torres. While the forward position is currently stacked, there is no telling what could happen with player movement, and the prospect of reuniting arguably the best striking pair in Spanish history, which won three straight major tournaments with Spain’s national squad.Additionally, Lampard and Torres (who’d likely play together for the second half of the season) spent some time together at Chelsea.

However, Torres is known to be mercurial in his attitude and performance. At his best, he’s undeniably one of the top strikers in the world, at his worst he’s unproductive and unmotivated. In a league where squad chemistry is so vital, is it worth risking a valuable DP slot on a player that may harm the locker room atmosphere? At 31, he’d be younger than any of NYCFC’s current DPs and would likely be able to stick around for longer, possibly carrying the team into the inevitable post-Villa era. But there are doubts about whether he is the type of player a team would want as the face of the franchise.

Whether you rest on the Casillas side or the Torres side of the argument (or, like me, you hope for both), the undeniable fact is that NYCFC is looking to make some big splashes in the near future, and that is good news for every fan.