Rafael Benitez has told Fernando Torres to start pumping iron if he was serious about proving he could be Chelsea's £50million man of steel.
Interim Blues boss Benitez admitted he did not know whether Torres could recapture the glory days that convinced the Blues to make him the most expensive player ever transferred between British clubs almost two years ago but claimed his fellow Spaniard needed to get fitter to stand any chance of doing so.
Benitez, who helped Torres become one of the best strikers in the world at Liverpool, said: "We have to improve some players physically and they will come back to maybe the strength they had. He has to train in a way that suits him. We will try to find this way."
He added: "It's a question of time, but we know we have to change the movements we're working. You have to work in the gym on strength. Maybe he needs to do that again."
Three Blues managers have failed to get Torres scoring regularly, each repeatedly insisting there was nothing wrong with the forward. But the man who knows his fellow Spaniard better than any of them said: "He's not exactly the same player now, because he was at maximum level at this time [at Liverpool].
"But I think he can come back. How close? I don't know. It depends on the rest of the team. I'm sure he can improve, but the team has to help him."
Torres also has to help himself, as does Benitez, following a run of just 19 goals in 88 games for the European champions.
"The first thing is to give him some confidence, instructions as to how he can do things in a different way, improve him a little bit physically," said Benitez. "You need to be stronger in defence, regain the ball easier and then you can create your own chances. That will benefit Torres.
Benitez denied he was under pressure to pick Torres amid reports previous Chelsea managers had been given the impression by owner Roman Abramovich that the club's record signing must play. "It's easy at the moment because [Daniel] Sturridge is still injured."
Indeed, Sturridge is Chelsea's only other recognised centre-forward and it seems unthinkable they will not attempt to bolster their attack in the January transfer window. But Benitez said: "I can guarantee I've been so busy, I haven't had time to watch any DVDs, or have conversations about this or that player. I have to improve the players who are here."
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- Fernando Torres
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