Oliver Torres’ name flew under the radar ahead of this summer’s U20 World Cup. Spain’s talented duo Jese Rodriguez and Gerard Deulofeu were drawing much of the attention, and that was probably the best thing that could have happened for the Atletico Madrid starlet. Torres waltzed in, dazzled the crowd, enhanced his reputation, and has certainly given Diego Simeone something to think about ahead of next season.
It’s no surprise then that Premier League clubs are chasing Torres. If everything goes to plan, he’ll be as good as Isco, coupled with a similar trajectory to become one of Spain’s and Europe’s leading midfielders. And if that seems a little out there, it’s just further testament to the incredible factory of talent within Spanish football.
But it’s far, far too soon to talk about moves to England. For Torres, it’s in his best interests to remain with Atletico. For the club, Torres is one of the best players they’ve had come through their youth system since Fernando Torres.
The young midfielder has already starred for Spain at U19 level at last summer’s European Championship, winning the tournament following a 1-0 win in the final against Greece. He’s had over a handful of call-ups to the Atletico first team, often just filling out the squad on match days but seeing action when the occasion was right. He’s nevertheless been training with the first team since last year, when Simeone became just another admirer of the youngster’s talents.
Torres is typically Spanish in his play, able to read the game exceptionally well, retain the ball and create openings for both himself and his teammates. He’s able to combine the styles of deep-lying players like Xavi with those who are much more likely to weave their way through opposition defences; think Iniesta or Isco. Even more so, his frame sees him in the category with other small, tricky midfielders from La Liga. He’s cut out for first-team football, but its’ very much a case of taking care with his development and easing him through. With a budding superstar on their hands, Atletico can’t afford to be reckless. They’ll do their utmost to ensure the player reaches his potential, and for that a loan move is bordering on the impossible for this summer.
He’s been to two back-to-back summer tournaments and he’s played a role in Atletico’s Copa Del Rey triumph last season, appearing in various stages of the competition. Now it’s very much a case of assimilating him in as a regular in the first-team squad.
The comparisons with names like Isco and perhaps Thiago are correct. Torres turns 19 in November, at which age Valencia were carelessly allowing Isco to make the move to Malaga for a measly €6 million. He became a standout performer in his first season and a star by his second. But unlike Isco, Atletico won’t need to lean on their promising young midfielder in the way Malaga did. Simeone has an abundance of scoring and midfield talents to help him maintain this impressive form Atletico are in, all the while having plenty of opportunities to offer Torres the much-needed playing time to improve his overall game. It has to be remembered that Atletico are straight into the Champions League group stage for next season. A player like Torres will be of great benefit to the team in “lesser” domestic games.
But Torres isn’t the finished article by any means. There are very, very few 18-year-olds who can come into a top level team and make an immediate impact. For all his talents, no one is expecting Torres to offer the contributions Cesc Fabregas or Wayne Rooney did when they were his age. And that’s what’s best. In Spain, there is obvious excitement for what may come, but the pressure is fleeting at best. In England, the pressure would weigh the player down, as most would be expecting and hoping for something akin to the Spaniard’s who are currently lighting up the European stage, with little acknowledgement for Torres’ age.
Torres is a star in the making, but under no circumstances would Atletico entertain an offer for the young midfielder.
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