Manchester City’s exoneration from their two-year Champions League ban on Monday means that they will now be looking to make strides in the transfer market. Questions were raised whether the English giants could be able to lure in high-profile players in the window if their expulsion from Europe was upheld.
However, Pep Guardiola will now look to strengthen his squad in order to snatch back the Premier League title from Liverpool next season. Several reports have stated that the City hierarchy are prioritising defensive reinforcements this summer, with names like Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar and David Alaba heavily linked with the club.
Leroy Sane’s switch to Bayern Munich has also left a significant void up-front, but it was believed that Guardiola would not sign a winger as he already possesses three world-class players in Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva to be deployed on the flanks.
Phil Foden, who is touted to be the natural heir to City’s departing legend David Silva in centre-midfield, has been used primarily as a left-winger since the restart, which could be indicative of Guardiola’s plans for him next season.
But it feels as if the Mancunians are going to sign a winger after all. Mikel Oyarzabal, Adama Traore and Leon Bailey have all been lined up to fill Sane's big boots but it looks like one name is edging closer and closer to a move to Eastlands.
Valencia wonderkid Ferran Torres has come into the limelight this season after what has been a breakthrough campaign. The 20-year-old is just four short of making a milestone hundred appearances for the Spanish club. His unmatched potential, talent and ability has made him one of the most in-demand youngsters in Europe right now.
Ferran Torres is a product of the Valencia academy system, having come up through the various youth levels at the club. In 2017, he was promoted to the B-side before his eye-catching performances earned him a spot in the senior squad only a year later.
Valencia born-and-bred, it would seem as if Ferran Torres would pledge his life to the club which has shaped and moulded him into a top-level player. But his ambition and desire to become the best has driven his decision to already look to take the next big step in his young career.
Ferran Torres to Manchester City?
Whilst suitors are plenty, including Juventus and Manchester United, Valencia’s starboy is most likely to join dethroned Premier League champions Manchester City. Pep Guardiola looks to be a huge admirer of Ferran Torres and eyes him as the most apt replacement for Leroy Sane.
The Spain U21 international is a dynamic wide player, equally adept at playing on both flanks. He is almost like a mini-version of Real Madrid ace Marco Asensio because of his technical prowess, spatial intelligence and ability to effect games from out wide.
Ferran Torres has stepped up in the absence of players like Gonçalo Guedes, who have struggled with injuries throughout the campaign. Despite being one of the youngest in the side, his passion and commitment for the badge can be seen on the pitch as he does not get afraid of raising his voice.
Ferran Torres is an excellent dribbler, an explosive runner and also has an eye for that perfect pass to the forwards. This season, he has been involved in 15 goal contributions in 43 appearances in all competitions. In Thursday's penultimate game against Espanyol, Ferran Torres' threaded pass to Kevin Gameiro proved to be the match-winning assist for Los Che.
His positional awareness is also remarkable and his fluidity in the attacking third gives Valencia a different dimension going forward. Although Ferran Torres thrives on the ball, he also prefers dropping deep and linking up play with the midfielders, often with one-touch passes.
He never tires, always keeping the full-backs on their heels and his relentless pursuit eventually pays its dividends. Ferran Torres can play as an extremely direct right-winger, aggressively running and troubling opponent defenders with his dribbles and swivels. He can also cut in from the left-flank onto his stronger right foot like how Mahrez and Bernardo are often found doing on the other flank.
Ferran Torres’ versatility and adaptability, therefore, can prove to be a huge asset for City, who are going to miss Sane’s direct approach going forward. The Spaniard is extremely effective in one-on-one situations with defenders, as he isolates them and takes advantage of his agility to feint past them or change his direction quickly.
Ferran Torres is one of the most watchable youngsters in La Liga and there is no surprise as to why some of the European heavyweights are desperate to entice him out of the Mestalla.
The Guardiola reign at City might be far from over
For Manchester City, however, the signing of Ferran Torres is not just about landing one of the hottest prospects in the continent. The fact that manager Pep Guardiola wants the 20-year-old winger to be his first signing of the summer before the potential big-money arrivals shows that the Catalan manager is hinting a prolonged stay at the club.
Guardiola’s contract ends next summer but reports are stating that he might be open for a one-year extension. The tussle with UEFA has put a dark cloud on City but Guardiola has come out fighting and has expressed his loyalty to club. This has only supplemented talks that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager will continue to build his sky blue dynasty at the Etihad Stadium.
We have witnessed how rough diamonds like Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have been polished and brightened by Guardiola in the past, and it seems like Ferran Torres’ stock could skyrocket in no time.
In what were six months of shadow and gloom, Manchester City fans can now finally see the light in front of them. And their vindicated leader Pep Guardiola has once again become the centrepiece of the transfer window.
But even with world-class wonders in touching distance, the Catalonian has his eyes on Valencia’s crown jewel. In what could be a fitting tribute to David Silva, Manchester City could once again begin their quest of unearthing one of Spain and Valencia’s most priceless gems.
Published 17 Jul 2020, 12:25 IST