Manchester, August 5: When Ferran Torres scored the fourth and final goal of Valencia's 4-1 Champions League win over Lille in November, he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation and announced himself to another mass of admirers.
While the goal mattered little in the grand scheme of the match, and it was hardly a contest likely to draw in all of the indecisive neutrals, it gave him his own slice of history, becoming the first player born in 2000 to net a Champions League goal for a Spanish club.
His cool, top-corner finish after an incisive run into the box will have been met with nods of approval from those being alerted to Torres' potential.
While the skilful and direct winger wasn't exactly an unknown quantity at that point, it was an early landmark in a career that looks set for many, and now he is headed for the glamour of the Premier League and Manchester City.
Ferran on FIRE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/pkkR5Jzyex— Valencia CF🦇💯 #AMUNTWorld 🌍 (@valenciacf_en) December 7, 2019
CITY'S DECISIVE SWOOP
Torres and his sister Arantxa have a tattoo in common. "An anchor. It was a reminder for us not to let ourselves be sunk by anything or anyone," she told OTRO last year.
Perhaps that should have served as a portentous warning to Valencia during their ultimately unsuccessful contract negotiations, with Torres' future long dominating headlines in the local media - he was due to become a free agent in 2021.
That, in a nutshell, is how City have managed to pull off such a coup with respect to paying a reported initial fee of £21.1million (€23m). Even with variables, the most they'll pay is thought to be in the region of £32.2m (€35m), a massive reduction on his €100m (£92m) release clause.
Local sports paper Super Deporte had remained optimistic for a while, some might say naively so, but with Champions League qualification proving well beyond Valencia, a departure long seemed unavoidable.
Even a club run as poorly as Valencia could not risk losing such an asset for nothing, yet City will certainly consider themselves to have struck a brilliant deal.
With Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus all noted as keen admirers of Torres, City officials will be patting themselves on the back - it did not take them long to fill the space left by Leroy Sane.
Despite only being 20, 2019-20 was Torres' third season in the Valencia first-team squad and he already has 71 La Liga appearances to his name - 26 of which were as a starter in the campaign just finished.
He had only played 12 times for Valencia's B team in the third tier before Marcelino Garcia Toral promoted him permanently to the senior side in December 2017, his La Liga debut as the fifth-youngest player in the club's history a rare ray of sunlight as he came off the bench in the rain during a 2-1 defeat at Eibar.
"All of us within the club were sure that we were looking at a very high-level footballer," Marcelino told Panenka magazine. "It was only a matter of time before he exploded, because it was clear this player had to play. He still has a significant margin for improvement, but along with [Martin] Odegaard, for me, he is one of the revelations of the season."
His form for Spain Under-19s during last year's European Championship further highlighted his potential as he scored both goals in the 2-0 final win over Portugal to earn a spot in the Team of the Tournament.
He then established himself in Valencia's starting XI, taking full advantage of Goncalo Guedes' injury absence. While still somewhat raw, Torres has been a joy to behold with his fast dribbling and direct style.
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NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE
There's no doubting the ability Torres has to excite - after all, only five midfielders in La Liga attempted more dribbles in 2019-20 than his 112, and when in full-flight, his combination of pace and upper-body strength make the leggy winger a formidable weapon.
Similarly, Torres is nimble and very agile, capable of jinking out of situations that appear one-sided in the defence's favour.
But he certainly hasn't hit his ceiling. Torres has many areas in which he can improve, particularly with respect to increasing his chance creation frequency.
His record of 25 opportunities crafted this term is not particularly great and is way behind Lionel Messi (89), Sergio Canales (80) and Jose Campana (73) out in front in La Liga.
His dribble map suggests a potential reason for this, highlighting that many of his ball carry attempts are made outside of the pitch's final third.
The greater awareness he requires should come with experience. After all, it would be a bigger problem if he was struggling to ever find dangerous positions, and that simply is not the case.
He has touched the ball more times (64) in the opposing area than any of his midfield team-mates in 2019-20.
And while nine goal involvements (four goals, five assists) may not sound remarkable, that is only one fewer than Martin Odegaard - a standout performer until his injury - and no one with more than nine is younger than Torres.
He may need a little time to settle in the Premier League, but the potential is undoubtedly there and he shouldn't be plagued with suggestions of being too small, like David Silva was when he made the same move 10 years ago.
Whether Torres can have a similar impact to Silva is another matter, but the 34-year-old's success at least sets a strong precedent for talented Valencia-developed technicians leaving their mark at City.