The footballers who once stepped onto the pitch at the Camp Nou say that when you look up, the stadium never ends. “Imagine how hard it is when you have people against you!” they exclaim in the Barcelona dressing room. Vitamin in good times, kryptonite in bad times, Barcelona fans can become too cruel an environment when football goes awry. “How many players have managed to turn the tortilla around?” Ask themselves in the coaching staff. For this reason, Xavi Hernández is especially concerned with the situation of Ferran Torres, a lifeguard signing in the winter of 2022, today in limbo. He is betting, in any case, on Barça to replace the injured Lewandowski on the visit to the Bernabéu. “Ferran must be given confidence,” underlines the Barcelona coach. And he remembers: “I am one of the culprits that he is here.” Ferran corroborates his coach: “He called me several times to sign for Barça.”
In the first transfer market after Xavi took the reins of Barcelona in November 2021, the coaching staff announced their verdict on the squad to the sports management: “There are no forwards.” From the area directed by Mateu Alemany they looked at the Premier League. “It was an emergency market and the English League, due to the pace at which it was played, was the only one that could guarantee us footballers who would arrive in perfect shape and who would adapt quickly to what Xavi wanted,” they say from the technical secretary. For Barça the name indicated was that of Mahrez. City refused. In exchange, he offered Sterling. “We are not interested,” replied the Barça club. The third option was the definitive one: Ferran Torres. “My child”, as Alemany cataloged it in the negotiations that he led in Manchester together with Ferran Reverter, at that time the general director of Barça.
Alemany knew Ferran Torres and his entourage from his time as football director of Valencia (2017-2019), the club where the current Barça striker hardened. For City, meanwhile, the play was perfect. “As a winger, he is not excellent one-on-one. That’s why Pep likes nine. He is smart to attack space, ”they say in the technical area of the English club. “But,” add the same sources, “he is not such a scorer either.” At City he signed 16 goals in 46 games. It happened, however, that for the blue entity the best thing was not to get rid of its fifth striker. His real success was economic: he signed Torres for 25 million in 2021 and a year later he transferred him for 55 more variables (Barça already paid 62). “I’m not to blame for the price they wanted to pay for me,” Ferran Torres defends himself.
Guardiola, in any case, tried to minimize the blow. “He is going to help them with goals,” the Santpedor coach warned the Barcelona board after Joan Laporta complained, half jokingly, half seriously, about the level of the Valencian attacker. “It is not as simple as saying if he is good or bad”, they analyze from the sports area. “Last season he did very well,” they add. In the 2021-2022 campaign, he sealed four goals and four assists in 18 games (1,417 minutes) in the League as Barça jumped from fourth to second position. And, according to those who know him, he fell short. “At the end of the season, Ferran should have been more selfish and scored more goals to inflate his statistics,” they recall from the Valencian environment.
In the preseason, while Barça sold assets to sign forwards (Lewandowski and Raphinha) and Xavi pressed for the renewal of Dembélé, Ferran Torres was injured. “He has sustained a wound on his right foot,” the club reported. A bad start that, however, was not important for Xavi. But the truth is that the Valencian has lost prominence. This campaign he has played 1,216 minutes (30 games) and has scored five goals, insufficient figures for Barcelona fans, who put Ferran in the pillory. “Ansu, as he is a youth player, is the right eye of the fans; Dembélé is Xavi’s; and Raphinha, the one from the board of directors”, analyzes a teammate of the Valencian’s dressing room. To make matters worse, he had to tolerate the pressure of being the son-in-law of the coach, Luis Enrique, at the World Cup in Qatar. A Molotov cocktail for Torres’s self-esteem.
“I felt like I had fallen into a bottomless pit. I had never collapsed so much ”, confesses the striker. He has sought professional help — “I put myself in the hands of a psychologist,” he says — and has given himself up to his coach. “I promised Xavi that he would be me again,” he reveals. In the Sports City he already has everyone in his pocket. “He comes to train when he has a party and he is kind and respectful to everyone. He is the typical player you want to do well, ”explains a first-team employee. Having conquered the locker room, the sports complex and the coaching staff, Torres has the most difficult mission: to seduce the fans. “We have blind faith in him. He has the ability to make a difference at Barça ”, concludes Xavi. Ferran will have the opportunity of him. And nothing less than in the classic.
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