According to various reports, Manchester United will look to sign a centre-back this summer and have been linked to Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.
Date of Birth: 16/01/1997 (25)
Strong Foot: Left
Height: 1,91 m (6ft 3in)
Who is Pau Torres?Embed from Getty Images
Pau Torres is the quintessential ball-playing centre-half that has established himself as one of the best defenders in Spain in recent years. The Spaniard worked his way through the ranks at Villarreal and is now an integral part of the squad. It wasn’t exactly a direct transition from the academy to the first team. He spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Malaga, who at the time were in the Spanish second division. Torres did very well at Malaga and he returned to Villarreal ahead of the 2019/20 season. He has since gone on to become one of their most important players. His performances for Villarreal earned him a place in the Spain squad, Torres made his debut for the Spanish national team in November 2019 and has since made 19 appearances for his country.Embed from Getty Images
United fans will remember Torres as one of Villarreal’s better penalty takers. His splendid penalty in the Europa League final during the shootout helped as the Yellow Submarine were victorious over the Red Devils. Torres has also been a crucial player for them in the Champions League this season and has put in some big performances against quality opposition.
His performances have attracted interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs. According to Fabrizio Romano, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are all interested in signing the Spanish centre-back. Torres has a release clause of around €60m (£50m) which will be valid this summer.
StrengthsEmbed from Getty Images
Pau Torres’ biggest strength is on the ball. He’s certainly one of the best ball-playing centre-back in Europe. This season in La Liga, Torres has a pass accuracy of 86%. He’s equally very good at progressing the play from the back. As per FBref, over the last year, he’s averaged 4.82 progressive carries per game and 4.19 progressive passes per 90 – ranking him among the best in his position.
Another one of Torres’ strengths is being able to keep possession under pressure. He’s always relatively quick which helps while playing a high line. Torres also possesses good decision-making ability as well as very good positional awareness.
Torres’ main weakness is aerially. Despite being tall, he’s very poor aerially and at times seems too passive. Standing at 6’’3, it’s something which he can and has to improve. He’s also not physically imposing and there are doubts over whether he’d be able to deal with the rigours of the Premier League.
Where would Pau Torres fit in at United?Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United will most likely see a centre-back exodus this summer with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones likely to leave. Axel Tuanzebe could potentially leave the club on a permanent basis as well when he returns from his underwhelming loan at Napoli.
If all three leave, United will need to sign another centre-back as they’d really only have 3 options with Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof. Torres would be a good addition and would offer something a little different as he is left-footed, unlike those aforementioned. With that being said, Torres and Lindelof are very similar in their playing styles.
If United do sign Torres, he’d most likely be a rotational player as United’s main centre-back pairing next season will most likely be captain Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
While Torres is certainly a talented player, potentially investing as much as €60 million in a player who wouldn’t start every game is a big risk. There are also a few questions over whether Torres would be able to perform in the Premier League due to his physicality. With the fact United already do have a player in Victor Lindelof who possesses similar attributes to Torres, as well as the €60 million price tag for a player who won’t start every game, the signing of Torres doesn’t make much sense in that regard.
United have also been linked to a few other centre-backs, mainly Borussia Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji. When Erik ten Hag takes over at United at the end of the season, it should become clearer as to who exactly United will try to sign this summer.