Ferran Torres’ signing for Manchester City from Valencia, which will be made official soon, puts an end to the rumours over the past few months linking him to just about every major club in all of the biggest leagues.
He has had offers from Juventus, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – and got calls from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United – but it is City about to finalise a deal estimated at about 25m euros (£22.6m) plus 12m euros (£10.9m) in extras.
The time has come for the 20-year-old – a prodigiously talented, lightning fast winger – to seek his fortune elsewhere in the footballing world.
A bargain for Man City?
Valencia wanted much more for the youngster but were conscious that he could have left for free in a year’s time – Manchester City have got themselves a bargain.
When I met up with him last week in Valencia, I asked him whether he was learning languages.
“Yes, you have always got to be learning languages because you never know where football will take you tomorrow…. but above all I am learning English, because English is essential whatever part of the world you are in,” he said.
So highly is Torres rated that many at the club thought a new Valencia side could be built around him. But, as always seems to happen at Valencia, politics and finance intervened.
With contract negotiations dragging on, the club decided not to take a chance – and have accepted a transfer fee instead.
Yet Torres retains a loyalty both to the club and his home town of Foios, around six miles to the north of Valencia’s Mestalla home.
Just as he will have no criticism of Foios – “I was raised there, have all my friends there and the truth is I feel very much at home there” – neither will he hear a word said against the club he joined as a seven-year-old.
He recalls the first time he put on the Valencia kit just before going to training as a kid.
“I remember putting on the shirt then going into the bathroom looking at myself almost in a daze,” he said.
“I was just wearing the shirt and my underpants and I was just staring at the shirt and saying to myself: ‘What am I doing here? How did I get here?’ It was a special moment.
“At the end of the day, it is the team from my land and the team that has given me everything.”
But now Torres knows the time has come to leave the club he has supported all his life.
He said: “As a player, I consider myself to be ambitious, someone that wants to win, win win, and… as time passes and you feel you are better prepared, then you want to take on greater challenges, experience a change of environment. Yes, I think I am ready to do so.
“Inside I always think that I am the best, and that I want to be the best and I work to try to be the best. If you don’t believe yourself that you are the best, then no-one is ever going to believe that you are.”
How did Torres get here?
His skill and speed were obvious to everyone from the moment he joined the club as a boy.
He made his way through the ranks and, much like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had done before him, spent most of his time playing in sides and leagues featuring youngsters much bigger – and almost always at least two years older than him.
“I did suffer because of the big physical differences that existed,” he said. “I was tiny in comparison to some of the people that I could see were fully formed and I struggled to the point that I would leave crying.
“To go into challenges as a 14 or 15-year-old against strong 17 and 18-year-old men was hard for me. That feeling of not being able to win, not being able to do what I wanted to was something I found hard to take in.”
He received news of his inclusion in Valencia’s first-team squad when playing for Spain at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup in India. On 16 December that year, he became the first person born in the 2000s to play in La Liga as he made his league debut against Eibar.
What are his major strengths?
Torres’ game is based on blistering speed, superb close control and unpredictability in attack. A modern day winger – he can also play inside – he has a great change of pace, is very powerful, steady with the ball at his feet and strong in the air.
Comparisons are already being made to a young Cristiano Ronaldo, a player who he cites as his main reference, “not just because of the way he plays his football but also because of the way he carries himself away from football”. He added: “It is worthy of admiration and I would like to follow his steps.”
He is not yet the finished article but is as close as is possible for one so young and has been described by Valencia academy director of recruitment, Jose Gimenez, as “the complete player”.
Perhaps his greatest asset is his football instinct. “More than a conscious understanding, what I do I do instinctively,” he said. “If by that you mean understanding then I guess it is, although I never really think that I have known what I am going to do, but rather just done in at that moment.”
What is he like off the pitch?
Torres will be sorely missed at Valencia not just by the team but also the fans who adore him as one of their own.
“For many of the fans you are a reference and they are also spending their time having their photo taken with you and that should also be respected and so I spend whatever time is necessary to be with them,” he said.
Until recently, Torres was still living with his father in Foios, although he has since bought himself an apartment in Valencia. The winger recalls a childhood tilling the soil in his grandfather’s orchard, something he now realises was another part of his education.
“At the end of the day, these are the small details that we must never lose, because although it has nothing to do directly with football, it has helped, me at least, to become the type of person that I am,” he said.
His closest friends call him Ferri; Torres said of them: “I have above all four friends that I have had all my life and with who I do practically everything, and the fact is we always stay in contact with one another.
“When I do things badly, they tell me, and when I do well, they are there to congratulate me, but more than anything else I am most grateful to them when they tell me about the things that I have done wrong.”
He is also extremely fond of his two dogs, an 11-year-old Podenco Andaluz called Minnie and a 12-year-old Czechoslovakian Wolfdog called Lluna.
“For my sister and me they are everything. In fact we couldn’t live without them. They have lived it all with me. Everything we have talked about they have lived with me,” he added.
There is currently no talk of romance for Torres. The main woman in his life at present is his sister Arantxa, six years his senior.
Torres said: “With my sister it’s true that I am much more open. With her I express much more what I am thinking at that particular moment. She is my confidante.
“She’s been through some very difficult and complex times and she has confronted them and come through them. She has her own career, her master’s degree and that has a great merit. She has always been super-protective of me.
“I think that the reason I get on so well with her is because she knows how to stay on the margins, not to smother me, and I know that if I want something, I can go to her.
“She will never ask me, but when I have any doubts about anything or any type of problem, the first person I always go to is her.
“We have a tattoo on our ankles – an anchor – in which are the words ‘I refuse to sink’. That’s because we have gone through difficult times together and we have always come through them and moved forward.”
I asked him: why is the tattoo in English?
“I don’t know,” he answered. “I think it looks better in English.”