Who: Ferran Torres
From Where: Valencia
To Where: Manchester City
For How Much: €23M/$27.3M
Grade For Manchester City: A-
Grade for Valencia: C-
FERRAN TORRES TO MANCHESTER CITY OVERVIEW
Manchester City is adding an exciting prospect who just turned 20 in February, but is experienced beyond his years. For that reason, and because he’s long been identified as one of the best young players in the La Roja (Spanish national team) pipeline, the Torres signing has gotten quite a bit of buzz.
While his impact was fairly minimal in ’17-18 and ’18-19, the fact he made 13 La Liga appearances (2 starts) in his age-17 season (’17-18) and 24 appearances (eight starts) last year was impressive. It’s all the more notable that he got that much playing time on a squad that finished both those seasons in fourth place in Spain.
This year, he took on a bigger role, appearing in 34 games, including 26 starts. With four goals and five assists on a team that struggled to score, he moved to the top of seemingly every prominent European team’s wish list.
Don’t expect a ton of minutes for him next season – he’ll be in the mix as one of Pep Guardiola’s endless quality options, but it’s hard to see him starting much more than 15 games or so. City fans should be excited about this move not because they just landed a double-digit goal scorer for next season, but because of what Torres projects to be in ’22 or ’23.
WHO IS HE?
I gave away more of the answer to this question than I probably should have above, but let’s start with some highlights.
Ferran Torres has signed for @ManCityUS – here’s a sneak peak at what the Premier League should expect! 😉
— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) August 4, 2020
As you can see there, he’s got good speed and seemingly (the three goals above admittedly do not constitute a massive sample size) knows how to finish his opportunities.
The most encouraging thing about Torres is what he accomplished in his team’s biggest games this season. With two goals and two assists in six Champions League games, we got a pretty good idea of how he holds up against elite competition. Without his assist in his team’s 1-0 road upset over Ajax on December 10 to send the Dutch side home, Valencia very well may not have reached the UCL round of 16.
He also fared well in his team’s 2-0 La Liga win over Barcelona on January 25, notching an assist. And against Real Madrid, he played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw on December 15 (and earned a solid WhoScored rating of 6.8) before having a tougher time as Los Blancos cruised to a 3-0 win on June 18. For what it’s worth, he also played 71 and 90 minutes, respectively, as his side earned draws in both match-ups with Los Rojiblancos.
For the year, WhoScored graded him at 6.72 over his 34 LaLiga appearances and 7.47 for his work in six UCL games. Those are solid ratings (“outstanding” is more fitting for that UCL number) regardless of a player’s age, making it easy to see why he’s seen as such a commodity at 20.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
The €23M price tag makes this a steal for City. Players with Torres’ rare combination of legit experience + several years ahead to grow into their prime typically cost around triple what Guardiola’s team is paying. They can thank the pandemic, as the depressed market is the only reason he’s moving for this price … and there’s also the fact that he understandably wants out of dysfunctional Valencia and his contract is up next summer.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
As I hinted at totally gave away in the overview, barring injuries, we’re unlikely to see him in action day in and day out for his new club in ’20-21. But he’s going to add to Manchester City’s incredible depth. And while he’ll have a smaller role than he did with Valencia, he won’t be glued to the bench, either. This signing is widely referred to as City replacing Leroy Sané, who started 21 games in ’18-19, his last healthy season.
My guess: Torres makes 20 EPL starts, with eight goals and five assists. His contributions won’t put him on any Best XI lists, but they won’t be negligible. Sticking with the Sané comparison, Torres won’t come terribly close to the German’s output in ’20-21. I can see the Spaniard one day notching double-digit assists and double-digit goals – Sané did it in both ’17-18 (10 and 15) and ’18-19 (10 and 10) – but not next year.
Manchester City: A-
Considering what they’re getting, at the price they’re paying, this is a home run for City, even if he lacks the star power of a Jadon Sancho or a Erling Haaland. The only reason this grade isn’t an A or A+ is that he’s unlikely to be an everyday starter in the near future.
Valencia went from surprise winner of Champions League Group H (over Ajax and Chelsea) in December to out of Europe altogether for ’20-21 by July thanks to a ninth-place finish in La Liga. They entered ’19-20 with a good coach (Marcelino) and a bright young star in Torres. Now, they’re without either — best of luck to recently hired former Watford Manager Javi Gracia.
A top-7 (Europa League) finish next year in Spain seems like the absolute best-case scenario right now, and that’s a shame considering this club’s history. They’re getting a decent amount for a player who could have left for free next summer, but without all the front office turmoil, they’d probably be keeping him around.
The grade would be a D or worse, but we’ll give them credit for seeing the writing on the wall and not letting him walk for nothing next summer.