Chelsea are on the verge of pulling off an audacious swoop for one of the game’s former greats in a desperate attempt to redeem some veneer of success from an overall disappointing season.

Fernando Torres was released by Liverpool in January and hasn’t been seen or heard of since. Rumours of his whereabouts are contradictory; while some claim that he returned to his native Spain to open a beauty parlour, others attest to seeing him shrieking with glee at a recent Justin Bieber concert here in the UK.

Whatever the truth the Cutter understands that Roman Abramovich has hired several private detectives in a desperate attempt to locate the errant front man and persuade him out of his self-imposed semi-retirement. It is the Chelsea owner’s firm belief that Torres – nicknamed El Nino which translates as ‘gentle breeze’ – could form a potentially lethal strike partnership with Didier Drogba at the Bridge and though manager Carlos Ancelotti is privately wary of the move he has publicly ceded to it, in principle at least.

How Nando would look in a Chelsea shirt.

Our London source told us, ‘Ancelotti is concerned about another possible Shevchenko situation occurring at the club where the owner goes over the manager’s head and recruits an expensive flop. He is however a pragmatic man and can see the benefits in signing a guy for nothing who would have cost mega-bucks only a couple of seasons back. And, in truth, Chelsea do require additional faces. They’ve been so short of numbers since their bizarre decision to loan out Sturridge that they’ve had to get by with only ten men on the pitch for many games already this year.’

Although Liverpool still hold Torres’ registration papers they are not expected to have a problem releasing them over to their southern rivals and, in theory, the Spanish hitman could resume his Premier league career this weekend for Chelsea’s home fixture against Wigan.

That is, of course, if they manage to trace the missing maestro in time and lure him from exile.