Manchester City new signing Ferran Torres has been making waves in Spain this season. But what has attracted Pep Guardiola to the talented 20-year-old?
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Not every player reaches their 20th birthday with the best part of 100 appearances already racked up for one of the bigger sides in Europe’s top five leagues.
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But Torres is no ordinary player. “Unpredictable” is how Jose Gimenez, the academy director of recruitment at Valencia, where the winger flew through the ranks, described him. “Explosive” was the word Pedro Campos, a football journalist at local newspaper Las Provincias, who has witnessed his rise to prominence first-hand, opted for.
Whatever you want to call him, Torres is a rising star.
As Pep Guardiola’s side look to reclaim the Premier League title snatched from their grasp by Liverpool, what is it that has attracted them to Torres to help achieve it?
A young star at the Mestalla
Despite Valencia dropping from fourth a year ago to ninth in 2019/20, in a season including three managers and brief rumours of a mutiny following Marcelino’s sacking in September, Torres still managed to flourish.
Five assists and four goals proved a solid return in a side where top scorer Maxi Gomez only managed to net 10 times, and the whole team just 46 across the entire campaign.
Torres created nine ‘big’ chances this season, the 13th-highest across La Liga, while completing 54 take-ons, the 20th-most.
“He is a pure winger, and when he attacks, he does it with a lot of strength and also with a lot of quality,” Campos tells Sky Sports.
“He is at his best accelerating past players, dribbling through defenders and heading for goal. His greatest weakness is defensive ability, it is difficult for him to return to cover his area, but in attack there are few soccer players in Europe with his explosiveness. Above all, that is what he is about.”
Torres first broke through under former manager Marcelino in 2017 as a 17-year-old, having made only 12 appearances for the club’s B team since moving up from the academy sides.
That was still enough of an impression to catch the eye, and by the end of the season he signed a new deal. “Every kid in the academy dreams of making it to the first team and I’ve got there at a young age,” a beaming Torres told the press.
“He rose through the different levels very quickly,” Campos says. “Near enough straight from the youth side to the first team.
“Marcelino wanted to give up on him but finally he had to give in because it was clear that Torres was the best player in his position.”
From only eight La Liga starts in 2018/19, Torres’ position in the Valencia side was undisputed this season and he caught the eye of many potential suitors, including Guardiola.
How will he fit in at the Etihad?
Torres is a winger comfortable playing on either flank, not unlike the player Manchester City see him replacing, Leroy Sane, who left for Bayern Munich earlier this month.
Just as Sane moved to the Etihad as a talented 20-year-old who had cut his teeth at a good level, so too does Torres on the back of his La Liga and even Champions League performances, having started five games in Europe this season, and scored twice.
The similarities don’t end there – with both players possessing lightning pace and the sheer directness which scares defenders.
When asked, Guardiola initially suggested City may not require a replacement of any form to replace Sane – who missed almost all of 2019/20 through injury. But clearly the lure of a prospect labelled as one of Spanish football’s brightest prospects, especially for a cut-price figure in today’s money, is seen too much to pass up.
So is he ready to compete with the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling for a starting spot from the off?
“Playing in a team which produces fast, positive football, as City do, Ferran will be an important player,” says Campos. “I think it is a great signing for City. On a personal level he is quite focused and will do well.
“He has a good temperament and because of his football, he will adapt well. He will be able to get a place in the line-up of a Guardiola team.” It’s an opinion shared by national Spanish newspaper AS.
In an opinion column earlier this month, discussing why Manchester City and Torres would be a good fit, it was written: “The exits of David Silva and Leroy Sane will vacate an area of the field in which Ferran Torres could undoubtedly contribute with his game, his electricity, his dynamism and his decision-making when the match requires a change of pace.”
‘Torres deal as cheap as chips’
Spanish football expert Terry Gibson told Sky Sports:
“First and foremost, he’s value for money. It’s a buyout clause (around £20.9m) for someone going into the last year of their contract, For Valencia, it’s been an epic failure by them not to tie him down to a longer deal, because he is worth double that, but of course every player in La Liga has a buyout clause.”
“He plays on either wing, predominantly right-footed, but left-foot isn’t a weakness either. He has played behind the front man as well, so he’s shown he’s adaptable playing as a No 10.
“He is a fantastic player, and has been in the first team for three years, at just 20 years old. He’ll be playing for Spain soon, that’s a cert, and it’s a big thumbs up from me for Torres.
“I believe they’re signing a player who is ready now. This isn’t someone they’ll be leaving on the bench, or in the B team, he’s a potential superstar for Spanish football.
“He shows willing and is always tracking back, working hard. But he’s 20, and every facet of his game can improve. We’ll expect and assume with Pep’s history that he does make players better, and I’m sure he’ll make Torres a better player.
“He is as cheap as chips. Honestly, for £25m, it is an incredible signing.”
Sky Sports insight: Which positions are Manchester City targeting?
Man City are expected to be busy as they look to regain supremacy in the Premier League from Liverpool.
The priority around recruitment will be in defence and, in particular, signing two centre-backs following their costly shortages last season while a new left-back will also be sought.
Two other very difficult challenges await: finding a successor to Sergio Aguero and the search for a new number 10 to replace Premier League legend David Silva.
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