For 23 million Euros, Ferrán Torres’s move to Manchester City is an absolute bargain. He comes in as a replacement for Leroy Sané, who moved to Bayern Munch on July 3, 2020, for an initial 45 million euros (that could potentially rise to 60 million euros with add ons). He may be only 20 years old, but Torres is a real talent and has played incredibly well for Valencia. A move to City is a definite upgrade for the player. Yet, I don’t know if it is the right time for him to move to the Etihad.
Why? Let’s look at why Leroy Sané moved to Bayern in the first place – a lack of playing time. There is a good chance that Torres may face a similar predicament. Most of the time, he will probably find himself on the bench at City. Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva are above him in the pecking order and have cemented their positions in the wings. He also will face competition from Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden (if he stays) for a spot on the bench.
Thankfully, Manchester City are a club that have a winning mentality – they want to win every competition they play in and therefore need to rotate their team for the different competitions. Chances will come for the highly-rated Spaniard to shine, but he will not likely be playing the same number of games he did for Valencia this past season. Torres may not be playing weekly, but he will learn a lot under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola as well as under the mentorship of senior players like Riyad Mahrez.
Torres publicly announced that one of the key reasons why he wanted to sign with the Manchester club is because of their attacking mentality and style. That was not the only thing that he revealed to the press and went on to publicly criticize teammate and Valencia captain Dani Parejo’s leadership ability. Speaking of Valencia, Torres departure could be the first of a mass exodus of players after the controversial end to their season, which saw Albert Celades was sacked and replaced by Javi Gracia. As a result of missing out on European competition altogether and ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the club will reduce its operating cost by 40%. Part of this reduction involves potentially selling upwards of 100 million euros worth of players during this window. Torres himself did not want to leave Valencia but instead, was forced out of the club. While that may be, it is safe to say that Torres has escaped from a sinking Valencian ship, where Peter Lim is the captain.
Guardiola had one for the future in mind when he was making this deal. Perhaps the not so distant future. Mahrez is approaching his 30th Birthday early next year, and City need to look at long-term replacements for the Algerian. On top of that, Guardiola doesn’t seem to rate Patrick Roberts highly, and the English winger could be transferred out this window. Roberts had loan spells with Celtic, Girona, Norwich, and, most recently, Middlesbrough. Now 23, a move away would be best for the player where he can establish himself at a club as opposed to spending another season out on loan or featuring as a fringe player for City.
Torres is by no means a finished product. In 44 appearances across all competitions, he has racked up 6 goals and provided 8 assists, which is a fairly average return for a player slated to become the next breakout star. However, his low goals and assist return rate could be due to the formation he is being deployed in. At Valencia, Torres often plays in a 4-4-2 system, where he is played as a wide midfielder, as opposed to a conventional winger.
Under Pep’s system, Torres could better use his pace, dribbling skills and creativity, as he is given much more freedom to cut inside. Sterling is an example of a clear benefactor of Pep’s system and Torres could follow suit. At the same time, given his experience at Valencia, he can assist and contribute from wide positions as well. It makes him a useful player to have because he offers the Manchester City options in-game. Comfortable with both feet, Torres might develop into a hybrid between Sterling and Bernardo Silva, having the pace of the former and the creativity of the latter. What he needs, however, is time to adapt to the playing style in England. With a relatively low transfer fee involved, there is less pressure on the player to produce immediate fireworks. However, because of the hype surrounding the player, many will monitor his development, and Torres would be expected to develop into a quality player.
Let me end off with this point; the transfer fee surrounding the player. 23 million euros is slightly lesser than the wingers market value. It raises questions on why the fee was so low. Granted, Torres was entering into the final year of his contract and Valencia may have been desperate to cash in. It doesn’t explain why he was bought for a fee lower than his market value. As I mentioned earlier, missing out on Champions League football and disruptions caused by the global pandemic meant that Valencia needed funds. I raise this point because it supports the notion that we might see an overall reduction in transfer fees for players. Many clubs need to recoup their losses and might be less inclined to hold out for higher fees because of the urgent need for cash. We saw this with Werner moving for only 48 million pounds. It is concerning because the pandemic might usher in a greater imbalance in leagues, with richer clubs exploiting cash strapped sides and buying their star players for significantly lesser fees than their market value.