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Ferran Torres - scouting report

Why Barcelona went for him

Spain v France - UEFA Nations League Final Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

FC Barcelona have made a big signing to bolster their attacking forces with the addition of Ferran Torres from Manchester City. The Spanish forward has played as both a winger and a striker, but will probably be a centerforward at least at first for Barcelona.

He is right-footed but very good with his left and has played as a winger on either flank. However, he generally plays on the right. Still, there are some that have said that his future is through the center.

Standing at 6’0”, he is a good height for a striker and is very good with his head. He still needs to improve his holdup play and ability linking up to become an elite striker. But the potential is there, particularly because he has shown a lot of good technique when passing.

One of his key attributes is pace. He is very fast, and can be very direct when given the ball. Playing as a winger, he definitely has the ability to beat people one on one and is a good dribbler.

When playing as a striker, he can make runs in behind high lines, and that’s something Xavi will be looking for.

Pep Guardiola compared his movement to that of Jamie Vardy, who is a forward renowned for his pace and ability to get in behind defenses.

“I’m a big fan of Jamie Vardy as a striker,” Guardiola said.

“I only make the comment because Vardy loves to make the movements in behind, normally strikers don’t like that much. Ferran likes it as well to make movements in behind.”

He has shown he is a good finisher, although he has not scored a breathtaking amount of goals yet. If he plays as a striker and continues to develop, then we should expect the number of goals to go up.

Something Xavi may also prize is his situational awareness. Torres has a lot of good instincts and is a smart player, perhaps even wise beyond his years.

Beyond that, Torres should adapt quickly to Barcelona. He knows many players from the Spanish national team. He has experience in La Liga and grew up in Valencia, which is not too far from Barcelona at all. There will be no language barrier or culture shock to speak of.

It’ll be interesting if Torres becomes a winger or a striker full-time, or always a mix of both. At 21, he is still very young and will improve aspects of his game as time goes by. Which aspects he concentrates on will depend on his responsibilities.

Torres is very versatile and well-rounded, which is a good thing, of course. But there are some who will wonder whether Barcelona should have gone for more of a specialist, who fits one particular role and not many,

Barcelona in the past has made the mistake of investing in forwards who specialize in different roles or systems and don’t adapt to their new positions. The club invested heavily in Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho, but neither were true wingers despite being played there. Memphis Depay has also struggled to replicate his form as he has changed roles trying to adapt to working as the main striker in a 4-3-3. These are or were brilliant footballers, but it was a round-peg-into-square-hole situation.

Will Torres break this pattern? I see that is a worry considering it seems Barcelona will use him more as a striker than a winger, the position he has played most of his career.

A few things should assuage those fears. First and foremost, Torres has already played successfully as a striker before joining. Barcelona aren’t attempting to reboot him, but build on a natural evolution. Second, it’s that combination of raw attributes. His pace and height make sense for the position and role. One of Coutinho’s problems is that he did not have the electric pace to be a winger nor the defensive ability to be a central midfielder in Barcelona’s system. Torres has the tools to make it work.

There is still definitely some risk to this signing though. The main one is whether he will translate good attributes and lots of potential to becoming a reliable enough scorer to play as a Barcelona-quality starting striker long-term. But before we ask that, we have to wonder if Barcelona see him as a long-term starting striker in the first place. With all the rumors about Erling Haaland, that does not seem to be the case. Then the question becomes: what is his future? Winger? Or will he always be seen as an all-arounder with many potential roles in the system? These are the key questions in the long run.