The conveyor belt of talented midfielders coming out of Spain feels almost endless at times. As Iniesta and Xavi move into the latter stages of their careers we find the likes of Isco and Thiago Alcântara waiting to step into their void and begin their ascension to the pinnacle of world football. Last summer viewers of the U21 football championship were treated to a Spanish side that was simply on another level. Unlike their competition many of their players had already tasted Champions League football and were crowned victors against a determined but outclassed Italian side. For the stars of that team it symbolised a culmination of their time in the youth ranks and their readiness to step fully into the senior arena.
As the likes of Isco, Morata and Thiago moved on La Rojita needed to replenish its ranks. The captaincy passed to Iker Muniain and key players from the U20’s stepped up to fill the void. Here we find young Óliver Torres, 19 years old and after seven games already the new heart of La Rojita. With three goals already for club and country his influence is best seen is his majestic passing and clever reading of the game. Dubbed “Miniesta” and likened to Xavi and Pirlo his abilities are already being applauded. His distribution is thoughtful and mature, able to deftly control the ball, create space before effortlessly picking out a teammate. Despite his age he already looks in a league of his own in U21 matches, running the midfield and causing endless problems for opposition defences.
Typical of many modern Spanish products his pace and quick feet allow him to take on players with nimble trickery and agile footwork.
For La Rojita he usually deploys behind the striker in the trequartista role, dropping deeper to collect the ball before kick-starting the attack. At club level he has started a little deeper, depending on how the team shape up, and has provided much needed creativity in the absence of Arda Turan. Having come through the ranks of Atlético Madrid he has now found himself on the edge of the first team, clocking up 166 minutes so far.
Under Simeone he is in an ideal environment to thrive with the Argentinian coach gradually integrating him into his team. Despite his huge potential rushing him into the first team would be distinctly unwise so early into the season, even if he did score a record breaking goal just 12 seconds into his full debut.
It was reported recently that Atlético rejected a loan move for the 19 year old, suggesting that he will play a bigger role in Simeone’s team come the new year.
Atlético and Óliver certainly differ in their footballing approach with the latter typifying the possession heavy style more associated with Barcelona and Spain while Atlético mirror their managers own defensive style of football.
That being said having the Óliver Torres on the bench offers Simeone vital options for Los Rojiblancos to continue their assault on the Real and Barça monopoly.
Óliver and Simeone’s relationship is strong and his coaches belief in him in the past has earned him the youngsters admiration and trust.
Chelsea and Barcelona have already expressed an interest and it could be argued that he is better suited to Barça’s style than his current employers. Be that as it may his commitment and loyalty is unwavering, going so far to say he hopes to retire at the Madrid club.
Regardless of where he ends up Óliver’s future is full of promise and uncapped potential. With the fourth spot in Atlético’s midfield contestable it would not be surprising to see Óliver Torres a fixture in the starting eleven in 2014.
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