Euro 2020: Ferran Torres burst onto the international scene with Spain, now he looks to stay – Asia Despatch

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Manchester City forward Ferran Torres burst on to the international scene with Spain… now he looks set to stay and will be desperate to play a key role for Luis Enrique’s side as Euro 2020 reaches boiling point

As Pep Guardiola freshens up his options in attack for next season, do not underestimate the part Spain’s Ferran Torres might play for Manchester City.

The 21-year-old has scored eight goals in his first 15 games for Spain — as good a start to an international career as the country’s all-time top scorer David Villa. But Torres’ rapid progress surprises no one who has followed his career. He has always been a footballer in a rush.

Before being spotted by any scout, he turned up for a trial at Valencia when he was six years old and ended up staying at the club for 14 years. When he left for City last August, it was in part due to Valencia’s reluctance to put him among the top earners and make him one of the captains. Aged 20, he already wanted to be a leader at the club.

Ferran Torres will be desperate to play a key role once again for Spain against Switzerland

Ferran Torres will be desperate to play a key role once again for Spain against Switzerland

His self-confidence and positivity perhaps got the better of him early in the Euros when he told reporters before the group game against Poland that Spain’s defenders (including City pals Eric Garcia and Aymeric Laporte) would ‘eat up’ Robert Lewandowski.

He was reminded of those words after the Pole scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw and he duly apologised: ‘If I offended anyone I want to say sorry,’ he said. ‘Lewandowski has always been a role model for me.’

Naming Bayern Munich’s forward among those he looks up to is a reminder that, in terms of finishing ability, it’s not inconceivable Torres will end up playing more centrally.

He came through at Valencia as a traditional winger (right-footed and playing on the right wing) but has been used on the left, too, making runs on to his favoured foot.

Guardiola was so determined he would fit in last season he sent his personal chef around to Torres’ house to organise his diet and make sure he was eating well.

The 21-year-old forward has already become a vital player for Spain manager Luis Enrique

The 21-year-old forward has already become a vital player for Spain manager Luis Enrique

The player’s Spanish personal fitness coach visited him, too, when lockdown restrictions and quarantine rules allowed. Everything was done to make sure he adapted.

The faith Guardiola has in him is replicated by Spain boss Luis Enrique, a man from the same footballing school and with the same boldness when it comes to gambling on youth.

Luis Enrique was not expected to change his team for the last-16 game on Monday after they had won the previous match 5-0.

But Torres had scored as a substitute in that last group game and he was picked to start against Croatia, when he scored again.

He missed the celebratory team photo in the dressing room because he had to give a sample to UEFA’s doping control officers.

Torres has scored in Spain's last two matches at the Euros against Slovakia and Croatia

Torres has scored in Spain’s last two matches at the Euros against Slovakia and Croatia 

Torres was also absent from the dressing-room group photo after Spain thrashed Germany 6-0 in the Nations League in November. That time, it was because he’d scored a hat-trick and was still giving post-match interviews.

He scored a hat-trick for Manchester City in his first season, too. The three goals against Newcastle went towards a tally of 21 in only 34 starts for club and country.

The feeling at City is that they were right to sign him from Valencia after he had played only two seasons in the first team.

It has been a steep learning curve. ‘In my first games I took a serious pounding,’ he told Spain’s El Pais newspaper last season.

Torres will be desperate to become a regular in Pep Guardiols's Man City starting XI next term

Torres will be desperate to become a regular in Pep Guardiols’s Man City starting XI next term

‘You have to be clever and try to avoid the physical duels because the centre backs are so strong. It’s better to hurt them with pace and movement.

‘I remember facing Sheffield United early on and they had three big warrior centre backs. You soon realise what the Premier League is going to be like.’

Convincing Guardiola he can play a bigger part next season is a battle for another day. His first challenge is to stay in Luis Enrique’s side. In a team that has now scored 10 goals in their last two matches, competition for places is tough.

But having scored in both games, the top scorer in the Luis Enrique era is sure to play his part.

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