When news dropped this weekend that Fernando Torres was resigned to an Atletico Madrid exit this summer but not ready to retire, it kicked up old talk linking the veteran striker with a move to Major League Soccer.
Sure, the former Spain star could make mega-bucks by latching on with one of the big-spending Chinese clubs, but the Super League's strict foreign player limit seems foreboding to a player eager to increase his playing time. As such, it's a fair bet that the right MLS suitor can lure Torres across the Atlantic.
When considering the possibility of a Torres arrival on our shores, it boils down to two simple questions: how much game does the 34-year-old have left, and which MLS clubs might make for a good landing spot?
Who is Fernando Torres right now?
The former Spain hero hasn't changed style much with age. Torres still runs, handles the ball and finishes well. He still can be deadly either seeking out the end of service or creating chances on the dribble. He still prefers cleverly running the wide channels of the area and is still a counter killer.
With Diego Costa joining Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro in the Atletico strike force this past winter, Torres has been reduced to bit player status this season. Even so, he is scoring at about the same rate as he did the last two campaigns, each of which saw him ring up double figures in goals across all competitions. He starts on the bench because his club are outrageously stocked, not because he's lost all his goal touch.
Torres has never been a superior hold-up man, so filling a textbook No. 9 role doesn't make great sense unless the prospective buyer lives on the fast break. He would almost certainly be better served at this point in his career in a two-striker set.
And though this won't offer extra temptation to every possible suitor, it also must be said that Torres would have great added benefit as an everyday example for young forward prospects to follow.
Where would he fit?
A few suggestions (each with an available international slot) spring to mind.
The Montreal Impact have a solid history of getting goals out of name veterans brought over from Europe, and adding a double-digit scorer is the sort of fuel that could propel them back to the playoffs. On top of the goals he'd provide, Torres would also draw some defensive attention away from Nacho Piatti and Jeisson Vargas. Montreal boss Remi Garde doesn't seem too enamored with returning strikers Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Matteo Mancosu so far, but each would likely benefit from have the Atletico star as partner.
The Seattle Sounders may be the best bet in MLS to make a splashy summer signing in attack. They are goalless through three games, could really use someone to replace the defense-shuffling runs of injured forward Jordan Morris and have an experience-laden roster nearing the end of a title-contention window. The Spaniard could pair well with target man Will Bruin, and provide another quality bridge to the major squad rebuild coming over the next couple years.
With a dozen goals scored in their first six games this season, early Western leaders Sporting Kansas City don't immediately scream "boutique striker buy" these days. That doesn't change the fact that the team is openly searching for an impact forward to round out the attack. Because they defend to spring the break and have some young forwards to mentor, Torres can have decent value to Peter Vermes' side.