Arsenal explored the possibility of signing Pau Torres this summer amid fears one of Mikel Arteta’s favourites could be tempted away, Fabrizio Romano has revealed.
The Gunners have started the season in sensational fashion, with six wins from seven games propelling Arteta’s side to the top of the table. They return to action on Saturday lunchtime with a much-anticipated derby clash against Tottenham.
Despite looking like top-four certainties, the Gunners go into the game with Alan Shearer dismissing their prospects of challenging Manchester City for the title.
The formula for Arsenal has been a simple but effective one. Arteta’s decision to sign young, hungry and talented players is starting to produce the goods.
A settled side, especially in defence, has also helped matters. To that end, the back four-unit of Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba and Kieran Tierney has picked itself so far this season.
The arrival of Saliba has certainly made a telling impact. After spending the last three seasons on various loans back in his native France, he has very quickly made himself an automatic pick in the heart of defence.
And his partnership with Gabriel has also given Arsenal a solid foundation so far this season.
However, it could have been a different story had Gabriel been lured away. Strong reports earlier this summer suggested the Brazilian was a target for Juventus as they were preparing to offload Matthijs de Ligt.
As it went, Arsenal’s valuation of Gabriel – set at around £50m – was enough to put the Old Lady off.
Were he to leave, though, it’s claimed Arsenal were lining up Torres as his replacement.
The Spain defender, 25, was also strongly linked with a move to Tottenham, with Antonio Conte looking for more defensive resolve.
Arsenal made firm Pau Torres enquiry
According to Romano, the Gunners were very much in the mix to sign the player.
Speaking to Caught Offside, he claims they were one of three Premier League sides to make an enquiry. Ultimately, though, Arsenal did not make their move, though Villarreal did put a £41m (€45m) asking price on his head.
“Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham also explored this possibility but didn’t want to spend €40-45m,” Romano said.
“I think it’s a very good opportunity on the market. He has experience, quality, left footed … a very good centre-back.”
Ultimately, Arsenal had no need to make a move with Gabriel staying put.
But like any well-run club, they did have a succession plan in place were the player to be lured away.
Tottenham also decided against his move, having turned Cristian Romero’s loan into a permanent deal. Clement Lenglet was also brought in from Barcelona as cover.
As for Chelsea, they instead moved for Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana for a combined £107m. Time will tell if their decision to overlook Torres was the right one.
Spain star won’t stay at Villarreal forever
Despite outlining his pride at playing for his hometown club, Torres surely won’t stay at Villarreal forever.
At 25, he’s maturing as a player and coming to the stage where he may need to move for the good of his career. The Yellow Submarine surprised many by reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season. That impressive run saw them account for Bayern Munich and Juventus, before coming up short against Liverpool in the last four.
And having won the Europa League the season before, they are certainly a club with a growing reputation.
But you cannot help but feel that is as good as it gets for Villarreal.
They are currently sixth in LaLiga with three wins, two draws and just one loss from their six matches played.
They are currently in the Europa League but will have ambitions of returning to the Champions League next season.
However, failure to do so will surely see a string of their top stars departing.
And Pau Torres is likely to be top of many clubs’ wish list were that to happen.
His deal at El Madrigal expires in summer 2024 and the club will be anxious to secure him to a new deal as soon as possible.