On a weekend that one youngster stole the headlines for being the youngest goalscorer in Spanish Primera Division history, another who made his debut is expected to grab many headlines in his career.
When a 17-year-old Oliver Torres stepped on to the turf at Levante’s Ciutat de Valencia in the early hours of Monday morning – yes, you read correctly – for visitors Atletico Madrid, it might well have been a significant moment in Spanish football’s future. Torres, who stands amongst numerous other promising individuals in the League, might just be the most exciting and genuine of them all.
Torres first really came to note last season while with Atleti’s Juvenil A team, as that talented group went on to grab their respective title. Although there were four or five players who shone throughout the campaign, it was the performances of a feather-like deep-lying midfielder that stood out the most.
Atleti fans were treated to a fine display of vision, movement and technical ability from the youngster week after week as he looked to dominate games from the very first whistle. What was most enthusing about Torres was his desire to be on the ball and to control. What Atleti fans were witnessing soon encountered a wider audience as the midfielder joined up with Spain at various youth competitions.
While with Spain U-18s, and alongside Denis Suarez of Manchester City, he guided the team to glory. But, the most special moment of all came with his step up to the U-19s group at the European Championships. While the likes of Gerard Deulofeu and Jese Rodriguez dazzled in the final third, Torres remained at the base and directed the team. He showed a degree of maturity that took him beyond his tender years, acknowledging the moments when to raise the tempo and when a more composed attitude was required.
That is what is so special about Torres – although his frame is one of a boy just entering his teens, the mind is one of a seasoned veteran. He shows none of the naivety many his age group do in abundance and, with a pair of eyes seemingly in the back of his head his reading of the game allows him to stay ahead of opponents. After the success with Spain U-19s he was summoned by Diego Simeone to Atleti’s pre-season summer camp at Los Angeles de San Rafael. It was impossible for the Coach to not notice Torres’ displays and, although Simeone’s playing style was a million miles away from the young Spaniard’s, there was much to admire.
The Argentinean went on to say that Torres would alternate between B team and first team, and although some have pushed for his permanent inclusion in first team matters it’s surely in the best interests of the player to sample B team life in Segunda B.
Although Torres has the intelligence on the field to keep ahead of opponents, he still needs to develop physically and add more muscle mass to his slight frame. Above all, there is no rush. Too much pressure on Torres now could see him follow many other promising young Spanish players from years gone by into obscurity. The idea is that he goes the other way – the way of Juan Mata and Adrian Lopez to name just two, learning the ropes at every level before excelling at first team life.
Good things come to those who wait, and those who show patience with Torres will witness something very, very good indeed.