Aston Villa have reached an agreement with Villarreal to sign centre-back Pau Torres, with personal terms also agreed. Here’s why Torres represents the next step for the club.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Pau Torres, the Spanish international centre-back, is set to join Aston Villa from Villarreal this summer after the clubs have reached an agreement for his transfer, and personal terms have also been agreed upon.
The arrival of another elite-level centre-back at Bodymoor Heath is the first representation of Aston Villa’s ongoing evolution – with Torres likely to eventually displace, or at least impact the amount of game time that highly-thought-of defender Tyrone Mings will be getting next season, despite his recent contract extension. Torres should be the long-term successor to Mings, despite all that that the former club captain has achieved – but it initially provides true competition for places and increases Emery’s options. It raises questions about how important Mings is, once more though.
The 26-year-old left-sided centre-back has cemented himself as La Liga regular in recent years and also an important cog in Spain’s international set-up. With a tall frame, strength and excellent technical ability, Torres has entered the elite level of football – even though he’s only convinced many of his prowess in the last few years.
Villarreal have shown patience with Torres – allowing him to mature, learn and grow as a footballer under the club’s guidance from academy to senior level. Coaches at the club have stated that he had “barbarous natural talent” but that he needed “convincing of what was needed (of him) to reach the elite.”
A loan to Malaga helped further progression, allowing him to develop in his aggression and intensity off the ball and to showcase how strong and tough he could be as a defender. While he isn’t the most physical or aggressive defender, they are attributes he worked on.
Villarreal’s patience paid off – and at 22-years-old, Pau Torres was afforded to opportunity to showcase his talents on one of the biggest stages in world football. The defender was starting to get a real chance at the heart of the club’s defence, and soon was showcasing his ability against the likes of Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi – shining against some of football’s elite forwards.
He was assisted by the club’s signing of veteran Raul Albiol, who would perhaps produce more grizzly performances at the back and allow Torres to continue to learn and utilise his youthfulness to his advantage.
Under Unai Emery at Villarreal, Pau Torres was a vital component and continued to improve – offering further consistency, fewer errors and better decision making. What followed was the blossoming of one of the game’s truly excellent young defenders, and his continued growth as he performed for both club and country.
For years, Torres has been attracting some of the world’s elite clubs. Not only for his ability as an elite left-sided centre-back, a commodity in today’s game, but for his personality and hunger to learn and improve. This summer alone, the now 26-year-old Pau has been linked with joining Bayern Munich – alongside other “elite” defenders like Kim Min Jae, and the already Bavarianised Matthijs De Ligt.
Sure, the impending arrival of Pau Torres at Aston Villa would not have happened without his former boss, Unai Emery. Yet, it showcases a lot on how the Villans plan to move forward from the end of their first five-year plan. Pau’s decision to test himself in the best league in World football, under his former manager, is the first step in a new era of Aston Villa.
Torres is set to sign a five-year deal, keeping him at the club until the age of 31 and the summer of June 2028. In that time, the club is going to evolve. We may see fan favourites leave, we may see them eventually play a reduced role – but for a club that’s aiming to reach the heights that owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris believe we can – fans may just need to get used to that idea.