After signing Fernando Torres on a two-year loan from Chelsea FC, AC Milan hope the 30-year-old striker will debunk the myth that Spanish players face a hard life in Italy.
"I was close to signing for Milan when I was at Atlético Madrid; it was a long time ago but it seems I was destined to come here sooner or later," said Torres before passing a medical. "Everybody knows Milan are one of the biggest clubs in the world, with seven Champions Leagues, 18 Scudetti ... I can promise I will give all I have, 100%, and I am sure that this will be a wonderful experience."
Dubbed 'El Niño', the 30-year-old left Chelsea having scored 20 Premier League goals after joining from Liverpool FC in January 2011. While at Stamford Bridge, the striker won the 2012 UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League the following season. He was also a key figure in Spain's period of recent dominance, helping them to glory at UEFA EURO 2008 – when he struck the winner in the final – the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) August 31, 2014
Torres's compatriots have not always had an easy time of it in Serie A, though there are examples enough of Spaniards enjoying success on the Peninsula. UEFA.com picks out five players who made it.
Whenever an Italian team signs a player from the Spanish Liga, Suárez's name springs to mind. The former midfielder left FC Barcelona for FC Internazionale Milano in 1961, after seven seasons with the Azulgrana, and went on to win three Scudetti, two European Champion Clubs' Cups and two European/South American Cups with the Nerazzurri.
Suárez spent nine seasons with Inter, scoring 54 goals in 328 games, before moving to UC Sampdoria, where he played for three seasons prior to retiring. Former Inter team-mate Sandro Mazzola recalls: "He trained on Mondays as well and he used to tell me: 'If you do it, then you'll feel 30% better on Tuesdays.' But I also learned the importance of eating from him; he always carried a bag with him, with some food and a bottle of wine inside ... after all, we had to do something to escape [coach Helenio] Herrera's diet trap!"
With Torino FC, Inter and AS Roma, Peiró proved that Serie A could be a good home not only for Spanish midfielders, but also for strikers. He left Club Atlético de Madrid for Torino in 1962 and, after two seasons with the Granata, joined Inter, where he won the 1964/65 European Champion Clubs' Cup, two Scudetti and two European/South American Cups – all with Suárez.
He will always be remembered for the goal that broke the deadlock during the European Cup semi-final return leg against Liverpool in 1965. Inter had lost the opening instalment 3-1, but at San Siro he stole the ball from the Reds' goalkeeper and scored into an empty net. Inter won that game 3-0 and went on to lift the trophy for the second time. Peiró captained Roma before returning to Spain in 1970.
Luis del Sol
Two years after Suárez's arrival, Juventus decided to turn to Del Sol to reinforce their own midfield. He was acquired from Real Madrid CF in 1962, and although not a star name like his fellow countryman – with whom he won the 1964 UEFA European Championship – he helped the Bianconeri to claim one league title and one Coppa Italia during eight seasons in Turin. He then spent two years with Roma.
Guardiola had already lived his golden age when he left Barcelona for Brescia Calcio in 2001, but this did not prevent him from securing a place in the hearts of the club's fans. In his first season in Brescia, he played with Ballon d'Or winner Roberto Baggio under coach Carlo Mazzone, and delighted the supporters with his quality. His performances earned him a move to Roma, but he was never a regular in the capital and was soon back at Brescia before leaving for Al-Ahli SC in Qatar in 2003.
Llorente is still plying his trade with Juventus, but after just one season with the Bianconeri it is already fair to say he is another Spanish success story in Italy. The 29-year-old left Athletic Club last summer and promptly aided Juve to their third top-flight crown in a row. After a tough start to the campaign, Llorente became a regular for Antonio Conte and found the net 18 times, suggesting a bright future lies ahead.
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