Ferran Torres to Barcelona: Would Manchester City really sell in January?
It makes perfect sense that Spanish giants Barcelona would be interested in Ferran Torres.
The Manchester City forward has, after all, just been voted the Spain national team’s Player of the Year after a 12 months in which he has scored eight goals in 15 matches for La Roja.
The 21-year-old is a hugely important figure for Spanish football moving forward, too, as coach Luis Enrique rebuilds his side with a new generation of players – many, such as Pedri, Ansu Fati, Gavi and Eric Garcia, who ply their trade at Camp Nou.
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So it is no surprise that one of the three biggest clubs in Spain would be interested in signing a player like Torres.
“Ferran is a great player, like others. We are working with discretion to seek the best for the club,” Barca vice-president Rafa Yuste told Movistar Plus after Blaugrana CEO Ferran Reverter travelled to Manchester to open talks with City – something Yuste denies.
“We simply have friends at City, there is a very good relationship and Reverter has paid a courtesy visit.”
It would also be understandable that, as sources have confirmed to GOAL, Torres could be tempted by the opportunity to return to La Liga and play a part in the Xavi revolution at Barcelona.
After just over a season in the Premier League, the ex-Valencia star is still pushing to become a regular in Pep Guardiola’s side, with a starting berth far more certain on the international stage than it is at his club.
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It is still, meanwhile, very early days of the Xavi regime in Catalunya, but the Camp Nou gloom has been lifted since his arrival in the dugout, making Barca an enticing prospect once more, even if they are in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League knockout stages.
Persuading both Torres and Barcelona that the deal is worth doing is, though, merely the easy bit. Now comes the difficult part of answering how a club with no money and a huge debts can buy a player whose value continues to rise, and has the potential of being a top performer in European football for the next decade.
“It’s none of my business,” Guardiola said on Tuesday ahead of City’s clash with Aston Villa, refusing to be drawn on the speculation.
“You have to call [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] for that, or the agent for Ferran Torres, or Barcelona, but I’m not the guy to talk about that.”
Torres, who does not turn 22 until February, has more than three-and-a-half years remaining on the City contract he signed after joining the club for an initial £21 million ($27m) in August 2020.
That looked a bargain price at the time as Valencia were forced into selling their homegrown crown jewel on the cheap amid financial problems having failed to qualify for the Champions League.
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Torres’ value has risen considerably since, with a man who played most of his early football as a winger having sharpened his goalscoring instincts working regularly under Guardiola, which in turn could see him become the poster boy for Spanish football going forward.
City, therefore, would want full value for Torres, with the Premier League champions having no real urgency to sell and plenty of reasons to keep Torres, at least through the January window.
After failing to sign a striker in the summer and with Gabriel Jesus now favouring playing out wide, Torres is the only senior member of the City squad who is most comfortable playing as a number nine.
It is in that role that he has made his seven appearances for the club this season, scoring three and claiming two assists before a metatarsal injury ruled him out of action midway through October.
Torres has recently stepped up his recovery, and it is hoped that he could be back ahead of schedule and in the squad ahead of a busy Christmas schedule.
The winter will be a testing period for City’s attack, particularly with Riyad Mahrez set to be away for a good chunk of January at the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria.
Guardiola has already talked about being short of players, and having Torres back available would offer him a major boost.
“I trust a lot in the squad and other players come in, but we are in real trouble for December – the toughest month of the year – because we have few, few players,” he said.
The January window has not traditionally been a time for City to make moves, although a significant windfall could help fund a potential bid for that missing star striker.
However, the financial problems at Barca remain a major sticking point in any deal being done, and sources in Spain have confirmed that they will still have to sell this winter before they can buy.
Just over 12 months ago, Barca found themselves in a similar situation when they wanted to sign Garcia from City, but could not raise the cash to buy him despite agreeing personal terms and the player being desperate to leave.
City showed then that they are prepared to walk away from deals rather being held to ransom, even in circumstances such as Garcia’s when he ended up leaving for nothing at the end of the season.
Barca hope things can be different this time, and are hopeful of offloading a number of fringe players who are on high wages, such as Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti, while the future of former City striker Sergio Aguero remains uncertain after a heart scare that could force him into retirement.
And so while there may be a desire to get a deal done from some of the key individuals involved, the reality is that this looks a tough one to get over the line right now.