Tenorio: Fernando Torres on Chicago's discovery list, team has interest

Fernando Torres - Atletico Madrid - On Bench

The Chicago Fire own the discovery rights for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres and are interested in signing the World Cup winner, league sources told MLSsoccer.com. 

Torres, 34, will leave Atletico, his boyhood club, in the summer transfer window and is reportedly eyeing a move to MLS or China. The Fire are a likely destination in MLS.

While Sports Illustrated reported Torres has a high asking price, the Fire have at least one negotiating advantage over other teams. Head coach Veljko Paunovic was teammates with Torres at Atletico Madrid for several seasons and has a strong friendship with the striker. Paunovic played at Atletico Madrid from 1996-2002 and again from 2003-2005. Torres debuted with Atletico in 2001 and played there through 2007 before leaving to Liverpool. 

A tweet from Paunovic in 2013 shows Torres FaceTiming with Paunovic and the Serbia youth national team. Paunovic would go on to coach the Serbian Under-20s to the FIFA U-20 World Cup title in 2015. 

The Fire have an open Designated Player slot and also have a hefty amount of allocation money, including $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $300,000 in General Allocation Money acquired in the trade that sent David Accam to the Philadelphia Union.

Torres has represented Spain more than 100 times and in three World Cups. He has 38 career international goals, including four at the World Cup and another five at the European Championship. He was part of the Spain teams that won the 2010 World Cup and Euros in 2008 and 2012. 

Torres told reporters he wanted to keep playing for two to five years, according to ESPN.

"I still feel I can play, and want to keep playing," he said. "I have not listened to any offers [from other clubs] yet, but I will now. We will sit down and look at what we have, before making a decision when the time comes."

Torres has made 20 appearances this season in La Liga, but has just three starts and has struggled to find playing time since January. He has two goals this season in La Liga, but also scored three goals in Copa del Rey action and another two goals in the Europa League. 

Atletico coach Diego Simeone said Torres will always be an idol at Atletico, where "El Niño" has scored 126 career goals, and hopes to send Torres off with a Europa League trophy. Atletico advanced to the Europa League semifinals on Thursday with a 2-1 win on aggregate over Sporting Lisbon. Torres came on as a substitute for Diego Costa and played 38 minutes. 

The Europa League semifinals will be played April 26 and May 3 and the final on May 16, all but ruling out any chance for Torres to leave Atletico ahead of the summer window.

Torres also played four seasons with Liverpool and five seasons with Chelsea in the English Premier League from 2007 through 2014, scoring 85 goals in those seasons. He scored 24 goals in his debut year with Liverpool, but failed to hit double-digits in goals in his final five seasons in the Premier League. 

Torres was part of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League-winning squad in 2012, netting three times in the tournament and coming on as a substitute in the final. Chelsea beat Bayern Munich and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who would be a teammate in Chicago, should Torres sign with the Fire. 

Torres played 10 games with AC Milan in 2014-15 before returning to his boyhood club. He has 37 goals across all competitions in the four seasons since returning to Atletico and was a part of the Atletico team that lost in penalties to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in 2015-16.