Chelsea are lingering behind Arsenal in a three-way Premier League race to sign Villarreal’s revelation Pau Torres, according to 90min.
The 22-year-old defender broke into the Villarreal first-team this season, with his performances catching the attention of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, who have expressed a strong interest in making a move for Torres next summer.
It is suggested that Unai Emery’s Arsenal first caught wind of the potential of Torres when former Gunners ace Santi Cazorla alerted the Emirates Stadium outfit to him, and have since moved to the front of the queue for his signature.
Torres made his Villarreal debut as a late substitute for Victor Ruiz in a Copa Del Rey clash with CD Toledo in December 2016, but had to wait until the following season to make his first start and La Liga debut (TransferMarkt).
A loan spell with Malaga followed in 2018/19, where he made 40 outings across all competitions and scored his first senior goal, before returning to the Estadio de la Ceramica this summer to lay claim to a starting role under Javier Calleja.
Villarreal-born Torres has started each of his hometown side’s eight La Liga fixtures this term, and struck his second senior goal in his most recent outing with the opening effort in a 2-1 defeat away to CA Osasuna.
Torres had helped to two clean sheets in his prior seven outings of the term for Villarreal to head into the international break ninth in the league standings, and saw his efforts rewarded with a new, long-term contract at the start of the month that runs until 2024.
Arsenal have expressed a strong interest in making a move to sign the defender next summer, though, and are confident they would be able to strike a deal if they offer the right figure. Villarreal inserted a €50m-€75million (£43.6m-£65.4m) release clause in Torres’ new terms, but the Gunners would be aiming to finalise a transfer below that figure.
Chelsea and Man City are also keeping tabs on Torres’ progress in Spain as they scout potential defensive reinforcements, with 90min adding that the 22-year-old is seen as one of Spain’s most exciting defensive talents.
Chelsea currently have a number of central defensive options for boss Frank Lampard to consider (TransferMarkt), but the Blues icon has frequently been forced to plot his teamsheets without Antonio Rudiger through injury.
Kurt Zouma has also left Lampard with questions over his future in the Blues’ backline, and faces the prospect of becoming the fourth-choice centre-half at Stamford Bridge once Rudiger returns to fitness (Football.London).
Torres, though, is proving himself to be a very capable defender in Spain, having taken possession with each of his seven tackles so far this season (WhoScored), along with eight interceptions, 35 clearances, 13 blocks, and 445 passes – 382 of which have found a teammate.
Torres’ 92% short pass completion rate would be a very handy addition for Lampard in his backline should he persist with playing it out from the back, while the young Spaniard’s 50 accurate long balls would offer players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic confidence to make defence-splitting runs knowing they can be picked out from deep.
Chelsea fans, would Torres threaten Zouma, Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori and Andreas Christensen for minutes at Stamford Bridge? Let us know in the comments below…
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