JOHOR BAHRU - Spanish international Fernando Torres could be playing football in Malaysia in 2016, if Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) manages to strike a deal with the striker.
"We have begun pursuing Torres who will be our 'marquee signing' for 2016. He will replace current JDT striker Luciano Figueroa whose contract ends in 2016," JDT chairman Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said a press conference earlier this week.
"Although he was not prominent in Chelsea, we must also look at his track record when he played for Liverpool and the Spanish national team," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
Tunku Ismail also revealed that the club had been in talks with Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, but the deal broke down because of the player's asking price.
He added that the club is also looking at other options such as Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez and Juventus forward Fernando Llorente, if they fail to lure Torres.
Signing Torres would represent a major coup for Malaysian football. Although Torres has faded badly after his move from Liverpool to Chelsea in 2011, the Fifa World Cup and Uefa Champions League winner is still one of the most high-profile strikers in world football. He is now on a one-year loan at Italian giants AC Milan.
Tunku Ismail says the club is now aiming to become the first Malaysian club to play in the Asian Champions League (ACL), after winning the Malaysia Super League title this year.
“Asia is the new football destination, with the big names currently playing in China, India and Australia. With good marketing strategies, as well as playing in the Asian Champions League annually, we will be able to get them to play for JDT,” he was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper.
JDT are no strangers to making high-profile signings, having previously recruited international stars such as Argentine playmaker Pablo Aimar, Italian midfielder Simone del Nero and Spanish striker Dani Guiza. But all three have flopped, with Aimar axed less than a year into a two-year contract earlier this year.
Currently, their foreign contingent consists of Singaporean Hariss Harun, Brazilian Marcos Antonio Santos, and Argentinians Luciano Figeruoa and Jorge Pereyra Diaz.