Manchester United must swoop for Villarreal defender Pau Torres this summer as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to build a title-winning squad.
What’s the story?
The 24-year-old caught the eye with a string of outstanding displays last season, reportedly attracting the attention of a host of the continent’s top teams.
According to The Athletic, United have joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in the race for his signature as they look to sign a new partner for Harry Maguire.
Solskjaer needs him
Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have failed to convince alongside the Old Trafford outfit’s club captain for quite some time now, and the search for a long-term solution at centre-back appears to be drawing to a close.
Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Sevilla’s Jules Kounde are also thought to be potential transfer targets for Solskjaer, although Torres arguably offers the most promise. While Varane and Kounde are both right-footed, the Villarreal defender favours his left and would therefore allow Maguire to switch to his natural side, providing a more balanced look to the United backline.
The Spain international also ticks all the boxes required for a modern-day defender. His pass completion rate of 89.4% has the youngster in the 78th percentile of player in his position over the last 12 months, while his 0.66 dribbles completed per game has Torres in the 93rd percentile.
However, despite standing at 6 ft 3, the £45m-rated beast is surprisingly poor in the air. His aerial duel win percentage of just 60.6% is considerably worse than Lindelof’s 65.7% and may be something of a concern to the United recruitment team.
Javi Calleja, a former Villarreal midfielder who coached Torres at various levels as they moved up through the age group ranks, may offer some insight into why this is the case. The coach revealed: “He has gone step by step, improving along the way. When you spoke about him, most people told you he was really good on the ball, although a bit soft when defending.
“When he was small you could see he had an extraordinary talent to construct the play, I even played him for a few games in midfield, but he told me he was more comfortable at the back. Bit by bit he picked up more intensity, more strength, becoming more physical, and he kept developing.”
Luckily for Torres and United, dominating in the air is an area where Maguire naturally excels. Therefore, the pair’s skillsets appear to marry up perfectly, and the duo could form the base of the Red Devils’ defence for many years to come.
It’s clear that Solskjaer needs a new centre-back to compete for major honours next season, and Torres could be the ideal candidate.