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Why Chelsea, Man Utd are pushing Atletico Madrid on price for Oliver Torres

Chelsea made their move last week, Manchester United tried a fortnight ago and Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley has been aware of him for 18 months.

In Oliver Torres Munoz, Atletico Madrid are convinced they have a genius on their hands.

One Atletico coach said: "Even in the warm-up, you can see he's a class apart from everyone else. The boy is a natural."

Just 17, Torres bypassed the Atletico B squad to be part of Diego Simeone's first team in the final weeks of last season. This was ahead of helping Spain to victory in the U19 European Championships this summer, playing with and against players over two years his senior.

Described as a mixture of Barcelona stars Xavi and Cesc Fabregas, Torres, standing at 1.78 metres, is a natural on-field leader and admits he enjoys the responsibility of having the game played through him.

"My best feature is my quality and vision, I like to lead the team," said Torres.

"I'm one who doesn't look too far ahead. I live for today and if things are going well now, that's all that matters."

Torres' profile has exploded this summer after the interest of United, Chelsea and Arsenal was made public. But Spanish football has known about Torres for years. At 15, he was tied to a long-term adidas sponsorship contract, one of only five local athletes to land such a deal.

But those close to Torres say the increased exposure won't go to his head. His family have made huge sacrifices to help him in his career, moving around the country since he was ten years of age so he could fulfil his Atletico commitments.

He still stays in touch with his former junior teammates and takes his studies seriously. A commitment his parents have insisted upon.

"Studies and football are compatible," Torres insists. "But if you do not want to study, there are plenty of excuses you can find. I am clearly tired after training, but I do not care, I can take it."

On the pitch, Torres has Atletico chiefs excited. His contract was upgraded last season and this term he is expected to see action under Simeone - unless Atletico can be tempted into selling.

The links with adidas make Chelsea an obvious destination and their sudden shift in transfer policy to target the world's best young players does suggest they'll try again for Torres before the market shuts.

But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson does have long-term concerns about the creativity in his midfield and while there is genuine excitement around Mats Daehli, his interest in Torres is unlikely to end with an initial enquiry lodged earlier this month.

It was in Manchester, where Torres played in a youth tournament last year, that Ferguson's scouts were able to see him on English soil and the teen's management are well aware of his increased profile within the Premier League.

But for Torres, he's happy where he is. For the moment, his sights are focused on nailing a regular start in Alfredo Santaelena's Atletico B line-up - and keeping his parents happy with good grades.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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