Ferran Torres had visited India as a lanky 17-year-old in 2017. He returned to Spain a month later with a FIFA U-17 World Cup runner-up medal around his neck. Four months prior to that, he was part of the Spanish team that won the UEFA European U-17 Championship in Croatia.
Torres, a Valencia youth academy product, has tasted success at every level at a very young age. While excelling in age-group tournaments for Spain, he also quickly racked up over 50 La Liga appearances for Valencia in the La Liga (the youngest in the club to do so). His phenomenal work rate, adept understanding of the game and explosive style of play evoked interest in the boardrooms of La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The 20-year-old winger, though, had other plans. He chose to make the trip across Europe to join Pep Guardiola’s indomitable Manchester City on a five-year deal. Torres will share the dressing room with Phil Foden at City, who was part of the England team that beat Spain in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup final.
“I thought it was a great step in my career to join such a big club, especially in the presence of Guardiola. I think he is one of the best managers in the world and I thought he could get the best out of me. I was also keen to join because of the great squad City has,” he says talking about his move to England.
“I feel very lucky to be able to train under Guardiola's command. He knows how to pass on football knowledge and knows how to manage the players because he was a former player. I think that is a very important (aspect) to manage a team,” he adds.
The youngster was handed the number 21 jersey, the number donned by City legend David Silva. Torres is particularly thrilled about it, having seen Silva play from close quarters when the latter was playing for Valencia. “I used to look up to him before he joined Manchester City because he was playing at Valencia when I joined their academy. He became a legend of the club when he came here. Wearing the number 21 on my shirt is a sign of happiness and something I am very proud of,” he says.
The Spaniard has made an impressive start to his City career, playing in 10 games across competitions and bagging four goals and two assists. However, he is aware of the cut-throat competition at City. “Competition is part of football and I think having competition in the squad is good for me because that makes the players raise the bar and improve. It's a healthy competition between all of us and I think the one who is the fittest at that particular moment, he'll play,” he explains.
Interestingly, he got on the scoresheet in all three of his Champions League matches with City to become the youngest Spanish player to score in three consecutive appearances in the tournament. His exploits earned him a call-up to the Spanish national team and he struck his career’s first international hat-trick in Spain’s 6-0 humbling of Germany last week.
Premier League is unpredictable
City, which put up a strong fight before conceding the title to Liverpool last season, is considered one of the favourites this year. Torres, though, simply says “the Premier League is completely unpredictable.”
He elaborates, “I think the competition between all the clubs is what makes this league great. Leicester City won a few years ago when nobody was expecting it. I'm sure Manchester City is going to be one of the contenders for the title and I'm convinced we can win, but I'm also aware that it's going to be very difficult.”
City is currently 10th in the Premier League table with 12 points from seven matches. Guardiola's men will take on second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, led by Jose Mourinho, away on Saturday.
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