By Pranav Shahaney

4th May, 2023 | 12:54pm

Aston Villa to rival Arsenal for Barcelona attacker Ferran Torres with Champions League spot in sights

Aston Villa will surely be eyeing a top-four finish as they are reportedly looking to sign Barcelona attacker Ferran Torres ahead of Arsenal.

According to talkSPORT [04 May], the former Manchester City winger may be sold as the Calatan giants are preparing to bring Lionel Messi back to the club.

Despite playing over 1,000 minutes in the league and featuring on 29 occasions, Xavi appears to be fine to part ways with the Spain international.

Barcelona’s loss could be Aston Villa’s gain and Unai Emery would surely be licking his lips at the prospect of signing a potential game-changer in Torres who could help them qualify for the Champions League.

With Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany also on his way to Villa Park, the chances of them signing the 23-year-old will certainly have gone up.

Despite his relatively meagre tally of four goals this season, the underlying numbers show that he’s being underutilised and will thrive if he plays regularly.

The likes of Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn have been playing on the flanks due to the absence of Philippe Coutinho and Leon Bailey.

Signing Torres will be viewed as an upgrade on any of the wide players and unlike Coutinho or Bailey, he will be the one to shoulder Ollie Watkins’ goal-scoring burdens.

According to FBref, his non-penalty xG of 0.31 per 90 minutes puts him in the top 82 percentile of all attackers in Europe’s top five leagues.

In comparison, Coutinho is relatively poor with 0.15 which puts him in the 17th percentile while Bailey is also not as good as the Spaniard and is in the 66th percentile.

Torres also averages more shots per 90 minutes than the two Villa attackers and if they can qualify for Europe next season, be it the Europa League or the Conference League, they will generate additional funds they can splurge on someone like the Barcelona winger.

While Coutinho and Baily average just 3.94 and 2.83 touches inside the opposition penalty area per 90 minutes, Torres is in the 86th percentile, making 5.67 touches – nearly two more than the Brazilian.

The 23-year-old is also known to score “phenomenal” goals and given his numbers, he is going to get into the right positions and be a real menace for defenders to deal with.

Given his age, he will only get better with time and even if a giant chunk of their transfer budget is spent on bringing him to Villa Park, it’s something that Johan Lange must consider doing.

Whether or not they can manage to sign him ahead of Arsenal, remains to be seen, but they may not need another wide player given that they’ve got Bukayo Sakala, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli vying for two spots already.

In other Aston Villa news, a Villa sensation could miss up to nine months of action and faces the threat of a potential ACL tear as well.