‘He is an incredible finisher’: Pep Guardiola hails new boy Ferran Torres for playing as a striker and shining in Manchester City’s narrow victory at Sheffield United
- New signing Ferran Torres played as a striker as Man City won at Sheffield United
- City boss Pep Guardiola was impressed with his promising arrival from Valencia
- Scoring goals has been a worrying issue for City in the early weeks of the season
- Torres is inexperienced but he has already had an impact in the Premier League
The concept is not completely alien to him: Ferran Torres has operated as a striker before. Just not very often.
Twice for Valencia last season, with one particularly notable performance against Real Madrid at the Mestalla, running Raphael Varane ragged during a 1-1 draw.
A central role was not what Pep Guardiola envisaged when Manchester City spent half of their Leroy Sane loot on Torres, a young pacy winger with a bright future but not someone expected to make an immediate impact.
Ferran Torres played as a striker and impressed Pep Guardiola for Manchester City on Saturday
Torres caused issues for the hosts as City picked up what could prove to be a vital three points
Injuries quickly mounted, however. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were again absent on Saturday, as in Marseille last week.
Torres was given the nod on both occasions but his manager has been at pains to stress this was less false nine, more frontline.
Try telling that to the Spanish press, who were clipping up videos titled ‘Pep’s new invention: he does with Ferran what he did with Messi’. No pressure, mate.
‘When we can train — and right now we are not really training — he is a guy who is an incredible finisher,’ Guardiola said. ‘He has a sense of goal, a quality to score.’
Torres has three goals already: two in the Champions League and one in the Carabao Cup.
The winger was not expected to make an immediate impact after joining but he has stood out
His progress has been quiet yet encouraging, with close bonds formed with Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling plus the Spanish contingent during a whirlwind first month in Manchester.
The way in which he took the opener in the south of France was ruthless and Guardiola believes, on another day, Torres might have left Bramall Lane with a couple more. Half-chances came and went, with Aaron Ramsdale thwarting him well.
He is playing there primarily for his movement. Arriving in the correct areas at the right times is a significant uplift on recent weeks as scoring goals has been an issue for City — they have nine from six Premier League games, fewer than all but Wolves in the top half.
By contrast, they had scored 24 at this point last year. In 2018, it was 19. Twenty-one the year before that, and 18 during Guardiola’s first campaign.
After controlling the game against Sheffield United, Guardiola offered an unprompted assessment on their attacking paucity ahead of Liverpool next week. He said: ‘We are struggling to score goals. One day we will unlock this situation.’
There is hope Jesus will be ready to return sooner rather than later — for now, Torres is a stopgap.
What he gives them though is a different option over the winter, when perhaps Aguero and Jesus both need resting, or are injured again. It also allows Sterling to remain on the left, where he has been so prolific.
Torres actually prefers the left himself, although observers who have tracked his career believe his raw pace and directness make him the perfect right winger.
What City have here is somebody else who can comfortably play anywhere across the three. Given Guardiola’s penchant for in-game rotation, that is no bad thing. Still, a few more goals would offer them breathing space.
Guardiola (second from left) was a happy manager after watching his team win at Bramall Lane