After recently parting with Leroy Sane for what could be called a snatch-and-grab robbery by Bayern Munich, signing the German winger for a paltry 50 Million (30 Million less than his market value) in an age where Harry Maguire costs 80 Million; Manchester City have completed the signing of his replacement for less than half of that.
Ferran Torres is one of the most promising young talents in Europe, having amassed three seasons of domestic as well as Champions League football under his belt at the tender age of 20. While the Valencia star had no shortage of suitors including the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United, his signing demonstrates City’s transfer philosophy: Signing a young player and developing him into a world-beater rather than buying a star and paying a premium due to the media hype he generates.
Having both Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez now settled into the squad thanks to the departed winger’s long term absence due to injuries lifts enormous pressure from the young Spaniard which allows him to adjust to the demands of a new league and into the system of Pep Guardiola which is far more complex and treacherous than what he is used to. However, it can’t be denied that the young starlet could be the key to ignite an era of Pep dominance in both domestic and continental competitions.
Having played all across the frontline so far in his career, Torres has been described as a traditional wide midfielder, due to his work-rate and penchant for running to the touchline, although he is also capable of cutting inside towards the centre of the pitch. Torres is known in particular for his blistering pace, creativity and technique, which enables him to take on opponents and overload the flanks, while his height, athleticism, and heading ability also make him a strong aerial presence. His biggest strengths however will be analyzed in detail below, showing how the forward is an asset to an already star-studded team.
1. Dribbling and 1v1s
Torres is a man of many skills and abilities, having already shown in the short spell he’s had on the biggest stages across the footballing world. But, his greatest asset is still his technical ability and the lethality he possesses in a 1v1 scenario and when isolated against the opposition’s defenders.
Torres can be seen as a traditional winger who will take on his man and create ‘something out of nothing’ when charging towards the final third. The numbers don’t lie – while Torres’s 2.8 dribbles per game seem respectable as compared to Mahrez’s 2.7 and Sterling’s 3.2 dribbles per game, it is a far commendable job for the Spaniard as he completed the same in a worse side which managed to win only 4 of its last 19 games suggesting he can exceed his numbers in a far better side. And while many wingers fail to convert their dribbles, his 58% success rate is admirable when comparing it to Mahrez’s 59% and Sterling’s 51%
The biggest advantage which the young forward brings over the current wingers is his low dispossessions. On average, Torres gets dispossessed 0.7 times per game. In comparison, Sterling gets nearly two and a half times more dispossessed than Torres, averaging 1.8 dispossessions per game and Mahrez averages 1.0 dispossessions per game suggesting while the English forward often becomes frustrating to watch after losing the ball easily, Ferran Torres brings more control to his approach to execute the systematic game plan of Guardiola.
2. Passing and crossing abilities
Torres’ passing abilities are decent but just like everything else in his arsenal – not nearly a finished product. His final product may not always be the best, but he has the vision and ability to assess the movement of his teammates and arrive in areas where he can deliver passes.
Torres is deadlier the closer he gets to the goal and as such, he only sends out 1.79 passes into the final third with 76.7% accuracy as opposed to 3.71 passes into the box with 51.6% accuracy.
While the accuracy is lower, granted, it still means that he successfully deploys just under two balls into the box and into the feet of his teammates, which is an impressive figure in itself.
His crossing success percentage of 15% is a far cry from both Mahrez’s and Sterling’s stats (30% and 21% respectively) like in other stats above in this category which can be accrued to the freefall in the form of Los Ches where only till January the young winger averaged 3.23 crosses with 35.2% accuracy. This fall in the club’s form from consistently finishing in Champions League positions to finishing 9th this term also harms Torres’s stats: Averaging 21.4% and 67.9% accuracy in 2017/18 for crosses and general passing respectively, 27% and 77.8% in 2018/19 for the same figures in the previous seasons.
Quite clearly, he is a player who’s growing steadily and is bound to continue doing so for a team like City who operate at a much higher level and require high technical ability in their build-up which Torres has.
3. Two-Footed nature and versatility
One of the main reasons for Torres’s signature is his versatility to play on either side of the wing. While Sane was lethal on the left by drifting wide and then shooting across the goal, both Mahrez and Bernardo prefer to cut inside and score. However, none of them apart from Sterling offer the same output when they are switched to the other wing. Ferran Torres however offers the versatility of operating from either side of the wing.
This versatility can be accrued to his two-footed nature. The winger possesses an equally gifted left foot, making him impossible to predict which is shown by his decent dribble success rate. Whereas defenders can predict Mahrez’s move of cutting inside (Still can’t do anything about it), Torres can easily drift wide or cut inside with ease from their side making him a nightmare of defenses across the country.
This allows Pep Guardiola to effectively interchange his wingers during the game, something which could be implemented with ease with the arrival of the Spaniard.
4. Defensive contributions
A student of Cruyff, Guardiola often structures his side in a way where the attack functions as the first line of defense embodied by the defensive contributions made by Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez from the attack. Ferran Torres exemplifies this philosophy, being a willing defender who tirelessly tracks back. This can be seen in 2.63 interceptions he made on average and 3.77 recoveries with 41.3% happening in the opposition’s half.
Torres also engages in 5.56 duels on average in 2019/20 across La Liga and Champions League, winning an impressive 55.9% of them.
5. Final output and goal involvement
While many underlying statistics suggest why City thinks of the Spaniard as a replacement for Sane, there are things that he will definitely have to improve on if he’s to become truly world-class.
His final product, for instance, still leaves a lot to be desired. And sure, six goals and seven assists from La Liga and the Champions League combined is still a decent return, especially with only 0.21 xG and 0.78 shot assists on average and 3.58 and 13 in total respectively, but with only 1.1 shots on average with 44.4% on target, his overall presence in the final third will have to get better.
Value for money
The transfer market completely changed ever since Neymar completed his world-record move to Paris Saint Germain, inflating the transfer fees of players beyond proportion. Add to that an obvious need for replacing an already departed player; many expected City to pay well over the odds to sign a quality replacement. In stark contrast, the club stuck to its ideology by opting for a wonder kid who will become a star in the coming future.
And it’s safe to say that they found the player who fits the type. Only as recently as early July, Torres’s value had increased from £43 Million to nearly£62 Million (CIES) with multiple clubs vying for his signature. However, with one year left on his contract, Manchester City enjoyed a smooth transfer negotiation with the player choosing the club to improve his game under the best manager in the world and Valencia fearing to eventually lose the winger for free next season.
To land Torres for an initial €23m, not only less than half of what they sold Sane for but also almost half of what they paid Schalke for a 20-year-old Sane back in 2016 makes this as one of the best business done by the club in the recent past.
Torres is a raw talent, but his strengths of pace, skill, movement, and vision are difficult to coach and rare to find. Especially in the modern game, finding a player who is comfortable both cutting inside and posing as a traditional wide-man is rare, and could be a huge asset for any side. Add into this that he is a willing defender and tirelessly tracks back, and it becomes clearer as to why Torres is attracting attention from Europe’s elite teams.
Moving to Manchester City also makes sense. With the departure of Leroy Sane, Guardiola could do with reinforcements for the wing positions. Torres would certainly not be a like for like replacement for Sane, but he has the technical ability to thrive under a coach like Guardiola. If he can adapt to the tactically complex style, the youngster could thrive as a winger in Guardiola’s 4-1-4-1. With his work rate and vision, he could even be reworked into an attack-minded central midfielder in the mould of David Silva
While only time will tell how this transfer fared for City, we all know how things turned out the last time when City signed a young Spaniard from Valencia in 2010. Even if Torres achieves half of what El Mago did during his stint at the club, we can safely say that the transfer was a success.
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