Barcelona are missing a lot right now. That much has been clear in their performances so far this season, with the Catalan giants slumped in seventh place in La Liga and out of the Champions League before the new year. By signing Ferran Torres, though, Barca have made a bet that they will now be missing one less thing.
Namely, a goal-scoring, adaptable attacker who can operate on the right side of a front three. Barcelona are so short of options in this position that Sergino Dest, a right-back, has played there several times this season with Barca B youngster Ez Abde also fast tracked into the team to fill the void.
Torres, in theory, will be a good fit for Xavi Hernandez’s system. The former Barca midfielder wants his team to play with fluidity in attack and Torres is capable of playing in a number of different positions across the frontline. What’s more, the 21-year-old will give Barcelona a sharper cutting edge having scored 16 times in 43 appearances for Manchester City over the last two seasons.
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But while Torres’ addition could solve at least one of Barca’s problems as they look to put the Lionel Messi era behind them, the move also raises a number of questions. Most acutely, there is confusion over how a club recently estimated to be over £1billion in debt has managed to fund a €55m transfer.
If Barcelona have been able to find this money now, why were they unable to keep Messi six months previously? At the time of the Argentine’s exit, the narrative was put forward by the club that they simply didn’t have any spare funds to hand out a contract extension, but Torres’ transfer is a costly one. Surely that money would have been better spent on keeping Messi.
The arrival of Torres at the Camp Nou also throws the future of Ousmane Dembele into focus. Xavi has spoken glowingly about the French winger since taking over as Barcelona manager, largely because he is the only true winger at the club. However, Dembele will be out of contract at the end of the season, so does Torres’ signing indicate the 24-year-old will be allowed to leave?
There are also questions for Manchester City to answer in light of Torres’ exit. This is, after all, a team lacking a recognised centre forward this season and the Spaniard was the one player they had who vaguely has the qualities to play in this position. Torres had demonstrated solid signs of development, so have City been hasty in moving him on just 18 months after they signed him?
It could be the case that the Premier League champions are clearing the decks ahead of a move for an elite level striker in the summer transfer window. Harry Kane is a long-term target for Manchester City while Erling Haaland has also been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium. Torres would have been knocked down the pecking order in the event of either goalscorer signing for the Premier League champions.
At just 21 years old, Torres adds to the youthful core of players at Barcelona with Ansu Fati (19), Pedri (19), Gavi (17), Nico (19), Dest (21), Ronald Araujo (22), Eric Garcia (20), Riqui Puig (22), Yusuf Demir (18) and Abde (20) all highly rated. The future might well be bright for the Catalans, which just as well because the present is rather bleak. As with everything at Barcelona right now, though, Torres’ signing is reason for much discussion.
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