Ferrán Torres: An Analysis and Profile

@GenZScouts are back with an analysis of a superstar in the making who is tipped for a move to England. Ferrán Torres is next on the list for the team, following recent analysis and profiles of Pedri, Marc Roca, Teun Koopmeiners, Hamed Junior Traore, Emerson, Sergio Reguilón, and Jules Koundé.

Valencia’s Spanish winger, Ferrán Torres, is one of the most desired youngsters in the world. The likes of Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Juventus, and Real Madrid, have all shown interest in the 20-year-old. Despite turning the heads of these European superpowers, it is Manchester City and perhaps the pull of Pep Guardiola, that has led to the Citizens standing as firm favourites. A host of media outlets are suggesting the deal is close to being complete for an estimated £30-40m.

Valencia are in the midst of a complete overhaul of the squad as they require an injection of finances. Ferrán is nearing the end of a contract which has a €100m release clause. The club are immensely proud of their superstar, but it is time for him to make the next step in his career.

This article will provide a coherent and in-depth look into Torres’ best attributes and style of play, as we look to investigate why he is so desired and acclaimed at such a tender age.

Position

Despite playing under three different managers this season, Ferrán has consistently been used in a right midfield role in a 4-4-2. He maintains width and is usually positioned quite high up the pitch, when in attack or transition, which is the most typical form of attack for Valencia, as they form a 4-2-4.

To further emphasise Torres’ standard positioning, I have used two ‘average position’ maps (SofaScore) from two games, each managed by a different coach. Torres is number 20:

Valencia utilise Torres in a wide and high position to make use of his pace in attacking transitions, to provide verticality, and to stretch the defensive line. He is adept at maintaining width by hugging the touchline, though, as we will see later in the article, he can also move to a more interior position, or on the left-hand side as an inverted winger.

Dribbling

Torres is a great dribbler and proves himself as highly effective in 1v1 scenarios. He is fast on the ball and difficult to defend against when at full speed; owing to his agility and speed in direction and movement. Torres ranks in the 64th percentile for successful dribbles in the top 5 leagues, at a success rate of 57%. This places him as the second most effective dribbler at Valencia behind Goncalo Guedes (StatsBomb/FBref/FootballSlices). 

Torres is an excellent carrier of the ball from deep positions. His awareness of which spaces to attack allows him to break opposition lines of defence as seen below.

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He is most confident in 1v1 front-facing scenarios. Here he notices and exploits Marc Roca’s weak side in which he is off-balance, allowing him to dribble past with quick feet and acceleration to explode through the lines.

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Again, in a front-facing 1v2, Torres is confident enough in his own technical ability to make a quick and devastating movement, bisecting both Atletico defenders, and then driving towards the vacant space to deliver a cross into the box.

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What links all 3 of these dribbling and ball carrying images is the knowledge and awareness of the vacant space waiting to be exploited. Torres comes deeper, testing to see if Saúl is willing to break the team’s shape by pressing him out of position. 

Ferrán knows he has the pace to beat Saúl, who by this point has way over-committed himself and left an alarming amount of space to be taken advantage. Ferrán jinks the ball down the line and beats the Atleti midfielder with ease in a foot race. 

These all show good examples of being direct and aggressive in the 1v1. In two of the three images, he had a simple backwards passing option which would have been the easy, but less progressive choice. Atleti would have been primed for a counterattack having seven men in an advanced position awaiting a turnover, which could have been devastating. 

Ferrán’s identification of high risk and high reward here is impressive and demonstrates great confidence, technical ability, and awareness of how to create space (dragging Saúl out) and then exploiting said space. It is these kinds of intelligent movements that will likely have impressed City and Guardiola.

Ferrán, if he does move to Man City, will not have as many of these scenarios where he has lots of space to exploit and run into, owing to the low blocks that the majority of premier league teams have used against Guardiola. 

The initial technical ability to win the 1v1 does show that Ferrán can dribble in tight and compact areas, shown primarily in image two. This is a similar case to what Sané brought to Man City. It was clear that the German was at his best when he could stretch his legs over a long distance, but his dribbling was not limited to this, and like Ferrán, he could use body feints and exploit gaps and spaces to drive into in tight areas. Torres does not have the same level of explosive pace, but has better close control and is more agile in small areas.

So, we know Ferrán is good at dribbling 1v1 front-on, but how about on the angle or back-facing?

Below, Torres is pinned to the line, on the angle, in a challenging 1v1 scenario. His quick change of pace and equally important control of the ball, allows him to escape from this pressure and win his 1v1 battle, as he jinks the ball beyond Renan Lodi who is a competent and strong defender.

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Again, we can see how Torres drags the left-back out of position and creates space for himself following the dribble which he can drive into.

What I would say about Torres is that he still suffers from inconsistency which applies to most aspects of his game, including his dribbling. For example, in a similar situation below, on the touchline and on the angle, Torres doesn’t take the 1v1 on and then produces a very ordinary pass to gift possession away.

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I have highlighted a smart way he could have won this 1v1. Combination play and using your teammates is a great way of winning individual battles, and decision making is a big part of this. The green scenario with quick one touches will require good understanding and precision, but Torres certainly has the change of speed and direction to make this work and beat the Getafe press. 

Another aspect of inconsistency is his play back-facing which he has shown he can do with ease, while at other times he has looked uncomfortable and panicked.

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These three images show different phases of Torres’ back-facing 1v1. Again, he chooses not to rely on teammates, which is fine; it just highlights a stylistic choice more than anything. Here, he lures players around him before once again seeing a gap and using his elite pace to drive through, showing great verticality and speed on the ball. He starts with his back to goal deep in his own half and emerges driving at the defence in the final third.

However, in this example, he panics as his first touch gets stuck under his feet. Besides, he does not have the strength to protect the ball and is easily dispossessed.

Again, when back-facing and under pressure, he panics and loses composure, passing the ball straight out of play. It is encouraging that he has shown he can be successful in different 1v1 scenarios. However, there is certainly room for improvement.

Creativity and offensive movement

Crossing

Torres is a high-volume crosser of the ball; he has completed the most open play crosses into the area for Valencia this season, with 15. This could prove useful at City who have completed the third most open play crosses into the box in the league this season. Benjamin Mendy leads the pack with 20, while Kevin De Bruyne is second with 18. (StatsBomb/FBref)

Crossing ability is often an underappreciated skill, and the above stats go some way to show how few crosses are actually completed. Torres’ low driven crosses are usually well picked out and more importantly, clean and crisp. The worst type of low cross is one that bobbles and bounces as the attacker looks to make a connection. Torres’ technique eliminates this from happening, giving his teammates the best chance of scoring. A significant number of Torres’ crosses were poorly met by his teammates, coming at no fault of his own.

Torres’ crosses mainly come as a result of his excellent dribbling work down the flank, giving him the space to pick his target.

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Like most players who regularly cross, the success rate can be inconsistent, and of course, relies on the quality in the box awaiting the pass. Valencia aren’t blessed with an array of talent in the air, although Maxi Gomez is capable aerially. This explains why, for the most part, Torres chooses to hit his crosses low.

Open play creativity

The Spaniard has shown glimpses of good open-play vision and technique. The assist in the recent Espanyol fixture showcased that he could create chances from deeper areas, providing verticality through quick use of the ball and utilising pace in behind.

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Likewise, the pass above showed excellent vision and awareness of Rodrigo’s run in behind. The defence-splitting pass was well executed and would have been an impressive assist had the Valencia forward not been inches offside. This image is also a good example of how Ferrán can be effective on the lefthand side when attempting passes into the box as an inverted-winger.

Statistically speaking, Ferrán does not emerge as a leading creative force. For open-play shot-creating actions, he ranks in the 39th and 38th percentile for pass accuracy in Europe’s top 5 leagues (StatsBomb/FBref/FootballSlices.com). 

Similarly, he ranks lower than his fellow forwards for shot creation actions per touch in the final third. Such a statistic adjusts for individual involvement, which suggests he is not making as much of an efficient contribution to build-up play and creation of chances as his fellow wingers. 

As far as the eye test is concerned, Ferrán’s chance creation largely stems from his crosses, and bar the example given. He has not been a huge creative force in the league thus far.

Off the ball movement

Torres has shown he can run in behind the defence to score goals and engineer his presence in positions to deliver crosses through intelligent movement, timing of runs, and identification of space.

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Again, we see how Torres can be effective on the lefthand side as he makes an inverted run directly into the box, which is well spotted by Rodrigo, and led to a goal. 

Not only does this movement create a goalscoring opportunity, but had there been an overlapping full-back, Torres distracting the opposing right-back would have left a chasm of space. This would have encouraged a cross into the box where Torres would be well-positioned to score.

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Against Lille, the Spaniard made an excellent run off the shoulder of the full-back that was timed perfectly, and finished beautifully. This is the type of run we are accustomed to seeing Manchester City players make.

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In this example, another blindsided run into space creates a very dangerous opportunity. Torres can be released down the right as he makes the blindsided run on the shoulder of the full-back who is flat-footed and slow to detect the danger.  This movement creates a situation where the Atalanta defence is over-stretched and having to defend running towards their own goal.

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The resulting situation is above. Torres plays the early cross into the highlighted danger zone, making it impossible to defend against. The pass was, importantly, not too close to the goalkeeper. However, the great chance was badly skewed.

Defensive work

It is hard to judge Ferrán’s pressing ability given that Valencia rank the highest for passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half in La Liga this season with 13.27. This shows that they are a side who does not look to recover the ball with much urgency. This is contrasted with Manchester City who have the 4th lowest in the Premier League with 8.53, highlighting the different style of off the ball work Ferrán will have to adapt to.

To further illustrate this, here is Valencia’s defensive actions map emphasising the lack of pressing in high areas, as they defend mostly in their own area. I don’t need to provide the visualisation for Manchester City’s defensive activity heat map as you can guarantee that it is the polar opposite to Valencia’s.

Data

The stats show that Man City are signing a player filled with talent and potential, rather than a finished product. Guardiola has been great at spotting talent and someone who he can work with and mould to fit his philosophy. 

In terms of style of play, the data profile confirms what this article has discussed; high volume dribbling and quality chances created (mostly from crosses), but perhaps at a low volume and impact in build-up play, as highlighted by the shot creation actions.

Consistency, especially in the league, is perhaps why the stats are a little low in places. This article has shown what Torres is capable of and highlighted some of the skills and attributes he already possesses. However, he is still a raw talent who has a lot to improve on.

Despite inconsistent league form, his performances in the Champions League have perhaps been his best to date. The ability to perform on the big stage, in pressure situations, is highly positive.

While he is not the finished product, Guardiola has clearly seen enough to work with and develop, much in the similar way that he has pushed Sterling to be the best possible version of himself. 

What is important to factor in is the varying styles that Valencia and Manchester City possess, as this will inevitably take time to adjust to.

Torres has, as we have visualised in some instances, demonstrated that he can be effective on the lefthand side, despite playing the majority of his games on the right. Similarly, Sané was a right-winger at Schalke before he signed for Guardiola. So, if the signing does happen, it will be interesting to see where Pep thinks he is best suited. 

My view is that he is best suited to the right-wing where he can maintain width. This by no means implies he’s a poor inverted winger on the opposite side.

Personally, I would have loved to see him at Dortmund if Sancho is to depart. The style of the Bundesliga with high defensive lines and lots of space to exploit, would have been quite the spectacle, and should have immensely suited Torres. Having said that, at City, he will be working under Guardiola, and it has to be said that he has got the best out of the likes of Sterling, Sané and Mahrez.

At the moment of writing this the move is not confirmed, however, if it is finalised then there is lots to look forward to; not only for Manchester City fans, but Premier League spectators around the world.

Let’s hope that we witness the emergence and growth of an up and coming star.

Written by: James Beagley (@GenZscouts)

Feature Graphic: Sam Ingram – @SamIngram_