The absenteeism of Leroy Sane for the majority of the 2019/20 season owing to the injury that he suffered in the 2019 Community Shield match against Liverpool left a huge hole in Manchester City’s attack.
The German winger was keen on leaving Manchester last season, but his long-term injury delayed his transfer, however, this past month, he finally got his wish as eight-time reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich signed him for 60 million.
With Sane gone permanently, Pep Guardiola was keen on adding another winger to his ranks and he turned to Valencia youngster, Ferran Torres. City took full advantage of the discourse at the Spanish club, where owner Peter Lim decided to put the entire squad on the transfer list, and managed to sign the Spanish winger for a mere 25 million.
Guardiola may have scored a discount while acquiring the young winger, but will he be able to milk the same production out of the 20-year-old that he managed out of Sane? We assess:
Quick, ambidextrous, and direct
The surge in the use of the inverted forward has diminished the role of a traditional winger, however, Torres is one of the few who still operates effectively in that role.
Ferran Torres from Valencia to Manchester City, here we go! Paperworks time and total agreement reached today for €27M (with add ons). Ferran will sign his contract until June 2025 as new Citizens player. 🔵🤝 #MCFC #ManCity #transfers— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 29, 2020
More details 📲 https://t.co/LfjT3SVsoe
The right-footed winger plays on the right-wing and has tremendous acceleration and a great sense of timing on when to beat his man. Despite primarily being a right-footed player, Ferran is extremely good with his left as showcased by his tremendous finish against Granada.
Torres is very direct with the ball at his feet and loves taking on defenders in a foot race. His sharp turns leave fullbacks tackling air and his acceleration make it impossible to catch him on the counter. Torres attempted 94 dribbles in 34 games in La Liga this past season and completed over half of them, showcasing his bravery with the ball at his feet.
A key attribute of his play is latching on to through balls from midfield. Torres is excellent at timing his runs behind the defensive line and capitalizing on through balls. This is particularly important, as City, who boast of perhaps the best passer in football in Kevin De Bruyne, could use Torres to blitz past low-blocks and find space behind the defensive line to either square a ball in the middle to one of his teammates or just attempt a shot at goal.
Ferran Torres for Valencia in LaLiga this season:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 29, 2020
❍ Most take-ons completed (54)
❍ Second-most Big Chance Created (9)
❍ Third-most chances created (25)
20 years-old with a bright future ahead of him. ✨ pic.twitter.com/VLmtSZ5M4r
At just 20, Torres is still raw. At City, the youngster will have to compete with Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva for game time in his preferred right-wing position and it seems that Guardiola decided to bring the youngster on board with an eye towards the future rather than expecting the youngster to set the stage on fire.
Like with Phil Foden, Guardiola has already showcased that he is willing to leave out a talented player on the bench for a season or two before he believes they are well-versed with his tactical demands and can deliver what he expects on the football field.
For City, there is reason to be excited by this signing, but also need to exercise when setting expectations from the young Spanish winger. Torres is a shrewd acquisition and one for the future and while he isn’t a direct replacement for Leroy Sane, the youngster is certainly capable of becoming a fan favourite in the coming years at the Etihad Stadium.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Jose Jordan