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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Even if it’s not quite late summer in Valencia, a more-than-moderate September in Manchester has eased Ferran Torres’ transition to England.
Aged 20, the winger is among the Premier League’s high-profile summer recruits, transferring last month from Valencia to Manchester City. Torres is one of two major additions to Pep Guardiola’s squad - Nathan Ake the other - acquired for €23 million (Dh100m). He has signed a five-year contract.
Thus far, he's taken a considerable amount of change seemingly with minimal fuss.
“It's been really easy settling in,” Torres tells The National on Tuesday, via a Zoom call from City’s training ground. “There are a lot of people in the club making things easier for us. Also, the weather has also been really nice recently, very hot, like Valencia.
“Although, I have also been told that the good weather will finish soon, so I hope I'll be adapted to the club and the city then.”
Given the pandemic prompted a short respite between seasons, Torres will need to become acquainted with fresh surroundings pretty quickly. He enjoyed his first taste of training with Guardiola on Monday, as he looks to make his mark in time for City’s opening Premier League clash one week on, away at Wolves.
City’s campaign was delayed a week by Uefa Champions League commitments spilling over this summer - they reached the quarter-finals - offering Torres a little more time this side of it to get to know his teammates. His manager, too.
“Very good,” he says of Monday’s session. “I'm very happy for having trained my first session with Pep Guardiola yesterday. He's a very demanding manager, but that's good because he knows how to get the best out of every player.
“He has played a key role in my decision to join Manchester City. He's one of the best managers in the world, if not the best. He knows how to get the best out of every player, and I thought this club is a great step up in my career to keep growing as a player and as a person.”
Guardiola’s guidance will no doubt grow as the season unfolds. For the moment, Torres has been asked to rely on the attributes that convinced City he represented a requisite replacement for Leroy Sane, the German who moved in July to Bayern Munich.
Torres’ talent is obvious: able to play on either flank or slightly more inside, he is dynamic, a dribbler capable of beating his man and creating for colleagues. A product of the Valencia youth system, he made 97 appearances in all for the club since debuting in November 2017, scoring nine goals and registering 12 assists.
Last year, Torres was part of the team who captured the Copa Del Rey, while he excelled at times during last season’s Champions League.
At six foot, he has the stature to do likewise in England, although he acknowledges the difference between there and Spain’s La Liga remains stark.
It's going to be a huge change, especially physically-wise,” Torres says. “La Liga is not as physical as the Premier League. But I think this league suits my style of play and I hope I can be settled as quickly as possible.
“I have good physical conditions, [while] Manchester City has to keep the ball most of the time - that is also important for my game. I'm a winger; I want to try to attack one-to-one, make dribbles, give assists and score goals.
“I think we will need to score lots of goals to be able to win the Premier League and the rest of the trophies [this season].”
Trophies are what Torres has come to City for. They're what City demands. Last season, the club claimed the League Cup, but relinquished their top-flight crown to a runaway Liverpool side. The former champions may have finished second, but they were distant runners-up, ultimately 18 points adrift of the summit.
Patently, that must be rectified this time around.
“As a team, our goal must be to fight for all the trophies, because we have a great squad and we are one of the best clubs in the world,” Torres says. “We must always be there fighting for every trophy.
"Personally, I want to get my spot in the team as quickly as I can, be always ready for the manager, and to play a lot of games. Finally, if I can contribute with goals and assists, that would be fantastic.
“We are aware that winning the Premier League is always difficult, because it's one of the best leagues in the world, if not the best. Liverpool are at a great level, but we have a really good squad to be able to fight for it and lift the trophy again.
“It will all come down to the ambition of the players and the manager. We all need to be in the same boat to achieve our goals - that's going to be the most important thing.”
One player Torres can’t wait to forge connections on the pitch with is Kevin de Bruyne, last season’s PFA Player of the Year and widely regarded as one of the game’s finest midfielders. Torres describes the Belgian as “one of the best players in the world”.
It’s a shame, though, that his City career didn't overlap with another of the club’s modern-day greats. Compatriot David Silva departed this summer following a hugely successful decade at the club, a time in which he won four Premier League titles and cemented his position as one of the division's greatest imports.
Silva's imprint on City isn’t lost on Torres. He joined Valencia’s youth set-up in 2006, just as the attacking midfielder's displays for the senior side sealed a call-up to the Spanish national team. Silva went on to win successive Euros and the 2010 World Cup.
For Torres, who capped his international bow this month with a goal in the Uefa Nations League mnatch against Ukraine - “it was amazing and I'll never forget it” - following in Silva’s club footsteps adds a nice flourish to his Manchester move. To strengthen the link, he has been given Silva’s No 21 shirt for the 2020/21 season.
“It's very special for me,” Torres says with a smile. "[David] came from Valencia as well, like me. As a kid, I always looked up to him when he was playing at Valencia. He is an outstanding player.
“He moved here 10 years ago and he made history in this club. When I was told that I could pick the number 21, I didn't think twice about it. For me, he has always been an inspiration.”
Torres hopes for an inspired debut campaign. He appears content already, and says he's relishing the new challenge that awaits. The interview takes place in his native Spanish, but Torres' English is coming along, thanks to his dedication to lessons, while that pleasant September climate has been a welcome surprise.
Not that he’s kidding himself as to what lies ahead.
“[Life’s] very different from Valencia, even if the weather has been very nice recently,” Torres says. “I have been told the weather here is difficult, it's cold and it rains a lot. But I'm sure I'll be able to cope with it in a very good way.”
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Updated: September 16, 2020 10:52 AM
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