Chelsea's £50m striker Fernando Torres has said that he would stay to fight for his place in the team even if the much sought-after Radamel Falcao was to arrive from Atletico Madrid this summer, increasing the pressure on the Spanish striker.
Torres, 29, who is expected to start in the Europa League semi-final first-leg tie against Basel here in Switzerland, said that he was happy at Chelsea and saw his long-term future at Stamford Bridge, in spite of another season in which he has struggled at times for goals. He has a good record in European competition with seven goals, but in the Premier League has scored only seven in 26 starts.
Torres is due to lead the line – his fifth start in the last eight games – as Demba Ba is ineligible for the competition. Torres said that he would remain committed to the club even with the likelihood that Chelsea will sign one striker, possibly two, with Falcao and Andre Schürrle of Bayer Leverkusen among those targeted.
"When you play for Chelsea you're always hoping big players come and the big names are always being related with Chelsea," he said. "You cannot stop that, especially when the summer comes. Every player is welcome at Chelsea, every top player. Since I came to Chelsea only top players have come so it would not be a surprise [if Chelsea signed Falcao]."
Asked whether he would certainly be at the club next season, Torres replied: "Yeah, why not? You don't know, but that's my idea." In an interview last May after the Champions League final, Torres had said that at times last season he had struggled so much with being left out of the side that he found himself indifferent towards their fortunes.
He said: "I have always felt part of the club. Things change and you could see this season that I've been the main striker, then Demba came to join the club. But I really think the club always told me the truth. They have hopes of me. They trust in me. They still don't say the opposite.
"I know I want to stay here. I want to be at Chelsea at least the next three years. If they change their minds it's a different question but the relationship between me and the club is always very straight. It's not a problem at all."
There have been periods of the season when frustration among the Chelsea support has spilt over into criticism of Torres, who has been booed at times by some of his own fans, including on Sunday during the draw with his former club Liverpool.
Eclipsed last season by the now departed Didier Drogba, especially in Europe, Torres said that he had not made significant changes to his fitness regime in order to recapture his form of around five years ago.
"I think the work I'm doing is the work I was doing many years before," he said, "so my body is used to it and it's helping me. I feel better at the moment, but it may be because I've been rested more since Demba arrived. Normally at this time of the season I feel tired, but it's not been the case this season as we've both been rested."