Barcelona on Tuesday confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign Ferran Torres from Manchester City for a reported fee of €65million.
The Spain international returns to LaLiga following an 18-month spell in the Premier League and has signed a deal until June 2027.
Barca are said to be paying an initial €55m (£46.7m) and as much as €10m (£8.5m) in add-ons.
The Catalan giants revealed a €1billion release clause has been inserted in Torres’ contract and he will be officially unveiled at Camp Nou on January 3.
City initially spent roughly €23m (£20m) to sign Torres from Valencia in 2020, meaning they have more than doubled their money on a player who has never truly been considered a first-choice starter.
Barca had been linked with Torres in pre-season but their crippling financial state meant transfer outlays were implausible.
The club’s debts have topped €1.4billion this year and as a result of their financial performance, they saw their LaLiga salary cap slashed by €280m to just €97m, hence their inability to retain Lionel Messi.
That saw Barca slip from having the second-highest wage limit last season to seventh in 2021-22.
Speculation ahead of Torres’ signing led to many pondering how Barca can suddenly afford such a significant transfer fee so soon, but reports indicate they recently took out a significant loan to ensure they can.
Torres’ arrival means new coach Xavi has the type of young, dynamic attacker he had been after, with the 21-year-old capable of playing through the middle and out on the right, where he was most-frequently used at Valencia.
Since Xavi’s return to Barca as head coach, he has spoken regularly about a desire to play with classic wingers, while his reluctance to use Luuk de Jong as the focal point of their attack has suggested a preference for a quick and energetic central striker – Torres fits the bill on both counts.
Yet he leaves City as something of an enigma, having only made 15 Premier League starts in 2020-21, and this season Torres has managed just four appearances in the top flight due to a foot injury he sustained on international duty in October.
As much as it feels he has left City before the Premier League truly got to know him, in his limited time Torres has made an impact on the pitch for City.
Among City players to feature for at least 1,000 minutes across all competitions since the start of last season, Torres’ 0.55 goals per 90 minutes is the highest and none of his strikes have been from the penalty spot.
His average of 2.8 shots (per 90) is third only to Kevin De Bruyne (3.3) and Riyad Mahrez (3.2), and his expected goals on a per-90-minute basis of 0.44 is bettered by just Raheem Sterling (0.47), showing that Torres’ high goals frequency comes from being a consistent threat.
Torres’ 1.1 chances created on average is well down the list at City, however. While this may partly reflect the fact he has featured as a central striker often, perhaps greater productivity in this area would have seen City put up more of a fight to keep him.
Nevertheless, the signing represents something of a coup for a Barcelona that just a few months ago was incapable of paying for players of such a calibre.