London :Fernando Torres has confirmed this season will be his last playing for Atletico Madrid, the striker’s boyhood club.
Torres enjoys hero status at Atletico, where he came through the ranks as a teenager and made his first-team debut, aged 17 in 2001.
But, after spells away at Liverpool, Chelsea and AC Milan, the 34-year-old’s second stint in the Spanish capital has largely been as a back-up.
Torres has started only three La Liga games this season under coach Diego Simeone.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to confirm that this is my last season at the club,” Torres said . “I felt I should let the fans know, as they have given me so much love and affection. Both the club and I knew that this moment was going to come. I think it is the best moment, accepting the reality that I am in, you see the prominence that I have in the team and maybe it is time to make way for others.”
Torres scored 76 league goals during his first five seasons at Atletico and after making an emotional return, he had hoped to retire at the club.
In between, a superb four years at Liverpool had been followed by difficult periods at both Chelsea and Milan, where Torres never rediscovered his lethal touch.
“For me it is very difficult to say goodbye to this club for the second time, because my head and my idea was to hang up my boots here,” Torres said. “But things do not always work out the way you want. I feel very well and I want to continue playing. I do not know if in two, three or five years I’ll look for a different situation.
“I do not have any team or competition (decided), since we have made the decision not long ago. So now we listen to the proposals and among these proposals we will have to decide.”
It has been suggested that Torres does not see eye-to-eye with Simeone, who is also something of an icon at Atleti, having played for five years there, before coaching the team to the La Liga title in 2014.
“My relationship with Simeone is normal, it’s professional,” Torres said.
“I’ve always said that I’m not going to participate in any division with Simeone. There is no problem with the coach, nor with anyone in the club, it’s a decision that is exclusively mine.”
Torres was struggling at Chelsea when Atleti won the league four years ago, meaning the only trophy he has lifted with the club is a Segunda Division title in 2002.
Atletico, however, are strong favourites in this season’s Europa League and the possibility remains that the forward will sign off after a victorious final in Lyon on May 16.
Torres has scored 113 goals in 330 appearances for Atletico. He also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010, as well as the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
“This second stage (at Atletico) has been magnificent,” Torres said. “I have lived magical moments and I am sure that I have others to live.“