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Pablo Torre: Could Barcelona's latest teen signing become the next Pedri?

09:00 BST 03/04/2022
Pablo Torre NXGN GFX
The 19-year-old was also on the radar of Real Madrid after putting in a number of impressive displays for third-division side Racing Santander

As Barcelona's rebuild continues under Xavi, there is no doubt who the club's fans see as being a potential on-field leader at Camp Nou for the next 10 to 15 years.

Pedri has gone from a relative unknown outside of Spain to being regarded as the best midfield talent in world football within just 18 months, winning Euro 2020 Young Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boy along the way.

Still just 19, Pedri's rise has been meteoric for a player of his age, while the ease in which he has slotted into Barca's style of play belies the fact that he came through the ranks at Las Palmas, rather than from within La Masia.

Given the success they have had in plucking a standout teenage performer from the lower leagues, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Barca are now looking to strike gold for a second time.

On March 4, it was announced that the Catalans had acquired Racing Santander midfielder Pablo Torre for €5 million (£4.2m/$5.5m) – the same fee that they initially paid for Pedri.

A further €20m (£17m/$22m) could be forked out if certain targets are met by Torre during his time in Catalunya, but even the initial fee is somewhat eye-catching for a player who has only previously played third-division football.

That said, it has become clear over the course of the current campaign that Torre is already too good for that level, having contributed a combined 15 league goals and assists for Racing in 2021-22.

"When we talk about advancing certain processes with some players, Pablo is one of those players," Aritz Solabarrieta, who handed Torre his first-team debut at Racing last season, tells GOAL.

"The step he has taken this year in football has been very big. Last year, he already stood out, but this year he has taken another step.

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"He looks physically stronger. He is still very young, but the evolution he is having is great."

That evolution was not only noticed by Barcelona, but also by Real Madrid, who fought hard with their Clasico rivals to secure Torre's signature.

Real Sociedad and Wolves were also monitoring his progress closely before Barca swooped in, handing Torre a four-year contract that contains a release clause of €100m (£84m/$110.5m).

So, what makes Torre such a special talent?

Having joined Racing in 2015, he made his way through the various age-group sides, impressing coaches with his game intelligence, calmness on the ball and his set-piece ability.

That caught the eye of Solabarrieta, who promoted him to the senior side in October 2020, and watched as his young charge racked up four goals and five assists over the course of his first campaign of senior football.

"He is capable of taking control of the ball, making good movements or passes, and has a great vision of the game," Solabarrieta explains. "But then there is his ability in front of goal.

"We asked him last year to arrive in the box more often and now he is doing it. He has a very good strike and he is already the designated set-piece taker.

"The tools and weapons he has are increasing and that makes him stand out from the rest. He is 19 years old and is growing a lot, putting more repertoire into his game."

Torre clearly has the talent to develop into a star at Barcelona, but the biggest challenge he faces when he eventually arrives at the club will be finding a role in Xavi's favoured 4-3-3 system.

The teenager regularly plays as a No.10 for Racing, finding space behind the central striker to dictate play in the final third, but no such position exists at Barca, with Pedri perhaps the player whose role is most similar.

"Pablo, both in the youth sides and in the Racing first team, has played as an attacking midfielder, with two traditional midfielders behind him," Solabarrieta says.

"It is clear that with the way Barca plays, he would have to adapt to new roles, both offensively and defensively.

"Because of his ability to understand the game, I think he will be capable of learning. I see him playing centrally or as a false left winger who floats inside.

"He will need a period of adaptation to get to know the mechanisms that the team has, as well as the functions and responsibilities that the coach asks for in those positions, but the player has everything he needs to do that."

It is not yet clear what the plan will be for Torre.

Upon the announcement of his signing, Barcelona claimed he would be integrated into their B team, but then the same was said about Pedri before he played all-but one La Liga game in his first season at the club.

There has also been a suggestion that Torre could be loaned back to Racing for a further season, with the Cantabria outfit looking good to secure promotion to the Segunda Division in the coming weeks, meaning he would play at a higher level than Barca B.

"He's a very intelligent player," Solabarrieta concludes. "And, in the end, the intelligent players know what they have to do.

"Despite having that innate footballing and mental talent, when we talk about the Barca first team, these are big words... He is going to need time to adapt."

Barcelona, fortunately, find themselves in a place where they can now allow talents such as Torre time to adapt.

He may not get thrown straight into the fold like Pedri was, but that does not mean he cannot join him in becoming a mainstay of Xavi's resurgent team in the coming years.

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