Manchester United are interested in Pau Torres this summer, with the Villarreal defender understood to be open to a move to Old Trafford.
MEN Sport understands that Spanish defender Torres would be interested in a move to United this summer, but may face competition from rivals Manchester City, who also hold an interest in the 24-year-old.
European giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich may also be keen on a potential deal for the Spaniard this summer, who has made seven appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring once.
The Villarreal academy graduate is believed to have a release clause in the region of €60million in his current contract, which is due to end in 2024.
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This got us thinking, just how big an impact could Torres have at United next season, if he signed for the club this summer?
To find out, and have a bit of fun, we used Football Manager 2021 to simulate the future and see what could happen with Torres at Old Trafford.
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2021 editor to arrange for Torres to join United on July 1, 2021 and then used Football Manager 2021 to run our simulation.
This is what Torres' profile looks like in FM21 as of July 2021.
In addition to the manual signing of Torres on July 1, the game simulated United signing three other players in the summer of 2021.
The Reds signed Benfica winger Jovane Cabral, striker Pedro from Flamengo and midfielder Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid.
We then simulated the entire 2021/22 season on the game, to see what kind of impact Torres could have at United next season.
This is what happened...
Torres' 2021/22 season for United on FM21
Torres ousted Victor Lindelof to form a strong defensive partnership with Harry Maguire, with the Spaniard becoming a key player for the Reds during the 2021/22 simulated season.
Across all competitions, Torres made 55 appearances for United, with all of those appearances being starts, which included 34 Premier League starts and 13 Champions League starts.
In those appearances, Torres scored once and registered six assists, not bad for a central defender!
Let's take a closer look at Torres' performance for United in this campaign.
The Spaniard won 40 of the 55 United matches he was involved in, with the 24-year-old having a 91% passing accuracy, a 84% tackles won ratio, 202 interceptions and didn't make any mistakes that directly lead to an opposition goal.
But how do these stats compare to his United teammates? Well, when comparing some of the key defensive metrics, Torres came out on top, ahead of Maguire, Tuanzebe, Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka.
The Villarreal defender had a higher tackle success rate and headers won ratio (87%) than any other United player, and was only beaten in the number of interceptions per-90 by Tuanzebe and Maguire.
At the end of every campaign on FM21, the game generates a best XI for each side based on a number of key metrics, giving players an idea of their best-performing eleven players.
With Torres in the squad, this is how the best United XI looked in 2021/22 according to FM21.
Full United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Torres, Maguire, Alex Telles; Fernandes, Pogba; Cabral, Van de Beek, Rashford; Greenwood.
Martial, Greenwood, Rashford and Fernandes all had great goal scoring seasons, with each scoring above 17 in all competitions.
New signing Cabral was the other summer signing to join Torres in the best eleven, with the winger contributing ten goals from the right side of attack.
So, how did United perform in the Premier League with Torres in their side?
With Torres in the side on a regular basis, United conceded 36 goals in 38 league games in our 2021/22 simulated season. Only two teams conceded less, with City (32) and Liverpool (34) having similar records.
To put that into context, United have conceded 32 goals in 28 games so far in the 2020/21 campaign, so you would expect Torres' influence to be an upgrade on their current options.
Here is how the final 2020/21 PL table looked once our simulation finished at the end of May 2022.
United finished in second place in the Premier League, but were just four points behind eventual champions Manchester City, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side winning an impressive 85 points, which is significantly higher than they have achieved in recent seasons.
The Reds finished eight points ahead of Chelsea and nine points ahead of Liverpool, who both also finished in the top four.
It wasn't just in the Premier League where United improved either, because they had a stunning Champions League run too, beating teams like Tottenham, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atalanta on their way to the final.
But in the final, Solskjaer's side came up against an excellent PSG side, who beat the Reds 2-1.
They did at least end up with some major silverware though, because United won the FA Cup, beating City in the final!
Goals from Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba saw them lift the FA Cup in May 2022.
Overall, Football Manager 2021 predicts Torres would be a great signing for United next season, and with the help of a few attacking signings, could help the Reds mount a title challenge, reach a Champions League final and win an FA Cup, with a much-improved defensive record.
As always these simulations are just one way of predicting a player's prospective impact, but it's interesting to see how FM21 predicts the future could play out if Torres signed for United in July 2021.
*Football Manager (FM) is the world’s leading football management simulation title. The latest edition of the game, FM21, is out now on PC, Mac, Mobile, Touch and Xbox.
The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on the ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.