Chelsea striker Fernando Torres appears to be "borrowed time" at Stamford Bridge according to one of the club's former strikers Tony Cascarino.
The ex-Republic of Ireland international turned football pundit believes the Spaniard's increasingly "peripheral" role endured by Chelsea's record signing suggests Andre Villas-Boas has lost faith in his underperforming striker.
The Chelsea manager has selected Didier Drogba against Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen in favour of the much maligned World Cup winning forward, and although the Blues have lost both games, Cascarino suggests Torres must now recognise his position in the Stamford Bridge pecking order.
The club's £50 million signing has cut a forlorn figure at Stamford Bridge since swapping Liverpool for Chelsea in the January transfer window. The 27-year-old has failed to replicate the form that immediately endeared him to the Anfield faithful prior to his acrimonious departure, and although he has shown fleeting glimpses of the talent that made him one of the most feared centre-forwards on the continent, Cascarino believes the writing is on the wall for the Spanish international.
"What must a £50 million striker think as he sits on the bench and watches his team-mates struggle against ordinary opposition and fall to a defeat that opens up the possibility of a Champions League exit at the group stage?" The former Chelsea forward told The Times.
"It must be becoming clearer by the day to Fernando Torres that he is on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge. If it was not obvious before, the 2-1 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen underlined it.
"The writing was on the wall when the Spain forward was left out of the Liverpool game. If ever there was a match you would expect to play in, it is against former team-mates whose weaknesses you know intimately.
"The message sent out is that Torres is second choice for the must-win matches. Didier Drogba led the line last night and his touch of class brought Chelsea the lead. But the Ivorian is closing in on 34. He will not be the man who shapes André Villas-Boas's future. Neither will Torres - who should be at his peak at 27 - by the looks of it.
"There are no longer any excuses. Torres had a full pre-season and came out flying against Stoke City on the first weekend of the campaign. Everyone thought his problems were over but, since his sending-off against Swansea City, he has reverted to that peripheral figure of the spring. Increasingly, he does not appear to be a part of Villas-Boas's plans. Or lack of them."