Is Pau Torres the answer to Man United’s defensive issues?

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According to multiple reports from respected media outlets such as the Manchester Evening News, TEAMtalk and the Daily Express, Manchester United are interested in signing Villarreal Spanish centre-back Pau Torres.

United are in the market for a centre back and could offer Ivorian international Eric Bailly back to his former club as part of a swap deal for Torres. But Villarreal are reluctant to sell for less than their £60m asking price.

The deal could make sense for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Bailly, whose United career has never really taken off despite an excellent first season. The erratic Ivorian has struggled with injury throughout his four years in Manchester, managing only 89 appearances, so a move back to his former club could be a positive step for him in rebuilding his career.

Who is Pau Torres?

Pau Torres is an extremely talented left-sided ball-playing centre back for Villarreal and the Spanish national team. The imposing Spaniard is 23 years old and has amassed an impressive 119 appearances for Villarreal’s B team and first team since making his debut in August 2016.

Torres continued to impress for the reserve side throughout 2016/17 and made his La Liga debut against Sevilla on November 26, 2017. Villarreal decided the next important step in Torres’ career was a loan spell to gain more first team, so he joined recently relegated Malaga on a one year loan deal in the Segunda Division. Torres impressed throughout his loan spell with Los Albicelestes on the Costa de Sol and returned to Villarreal to challenge for a starting position at centre back.

The Spaniard successively cemented his place at centre back for El Submarino Amarillo, playing every match in the league. He was rewarded for his excellent form in October 2019, when he signed a lucrative new contract extension until 2024.

International career

Pau Torres’ terrific form for Villarreal resulted in him earning his first call up to the Spanish national team for the October international break in 2019. Roberto Moreno, who was then in charge of the Spanish national team, was a big fan of Torres’ ball playing ability and his athleticism which would give his side more flexibility when defending with a high line.

Although Torres did not feature in the October international break in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden, he made a lasting impression on Moreno and his coaching staff throughout the camp. Moreno finally gave Torres’ his long awaited debut against Malta in November 2019. Spain demolished Malta 7-0 and Torres capped his international debut with a goal.

Upon gaining qualification for Euro 2020 Moreno resigned as manager of Spain and was replaced by his predecessor Luis Enrique. There has been a significant squad overhaul with La Roja under Enrique’s guidance with the integration of a number of exciting young players. Enrique seems to have settled on a preferred centre back partnership of the ever green Sergio Ramos and the towering Torres.

Torres has asserted himself as a key figure for La Roja, starting in every game in 2020 under Enrique and forming an impressive partnership with inspirational captain Ramos. Enrique has described Torres as the perfect long term replacement for Sergio once he retired.

Style of Play

Pau Torres is a gracious ball-playing centreback with the potential to become one of the top defenders in European football. Torres has formed a formidable partnership with Raul Albiol, operating on the left side of defence. The imposing Spaniard is left footed which is extremely beneficial as he provides balance in the build-up and construction of playing out from the back. This is a key attribute wanted by top European clubs as left-sided centre backs that can play out from the back are fundamental to how most teams play.

Torres has showcased throughout his career his confidence in possession, especially when bringing the ball out from the back after gaining possession from the goalkeeper. Torres is physically tailor-made for the Premier League, standing at an impressive 6’3 and weighing 82kg. With his physical presence he could look very at home playing on a wet windy night in Stoke. His physicality has allowed Torres to dominate opposition players aerially and on the ground. He is also an excellent reader of the game with a high football IQ as he has shown with excellent positional displays.

Another impressive attribute Torres has is his passing range and ability when in possession. He averages 55.26 passes per game with 86.2% accuracy. He has a wide range of passing. His ability to play long accurate passes and short accurate passes would be an excellent asset to a Manchester United side who have struggled to play out from the back under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Overall, Torres is an excellent young imposing defender who would improve any top European club’s defence immediately. He would be the perfect partner for club captain Harry Maguire, especially under Solskjaer’s current system.

However, considering Manchester United’s embarrassment of riches with central defenders, a transfer for the talented Spaniard would depend on departures at Old Trafford. United have five senior central defenders at the club and would look to move on Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe before moving for Torres. Solskjaer is looking to strengthen at centre back and if the club does manage to get Jones and Tuanzebe off the books, Bailly could be used as leverage in a potential transfer for Torres.

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