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Unai Emery opens up on Aston Villa transfer coup

Unai Emery reckons he pulled off a coup by convincing Pau Torres to join Villa after claiming the defender is capable of playing for Europe’s elite.


Torres has impressed since reuniting with Emery following a £31million move from Villarreal last summer, with the boss admitting even he is surprised at how quickly the Spain international has adapted to the Premier League.

The presence of Emery was undoubtedly key to the deal, with Bayern Munich having also registered their interest in Torres.

Emery yesterday explained how the classy centre-back had previously turned down offers from the Premier League’s Big Six in order to remain with Villarreal when they were competing in the Champions League.

Though Villa’s head coach believes Torres still has room to improve, he thinks his current level is already high, explaining: “If I was the coach at Barcelona and Real Madrid, I would want a player like him.

“He had some offers from top six teams before in the Premier League. He refused because he decided to stay in Spain.

“There were teams in Italy and Germany as well. I always wanted him because I think his potential, I can help him improve more.

“His challenge here in the Premier League is to improve the weaknesses. He is showing his potential and he is adapting to our structure and the Premier League very quickly.

“Of course, there is more work to do but I think now he is feeling comfortable and more confident. Everyone can see his quality.”

Emery is understood to have identified Torres, whose performances have earned rave reviews from Villa supporters, as his No.1 target in his first summer as Villa boss.

The 27-year-old made his first start after two months struggling with an ankle injury in last weekend's win at Fulham.

Emery continued: “Of course, when he came here last year it was because we had a very good relationship professionally.

“He knows me and I know him. When he was in Spain another step for him was to try and play in the Premier League or the top teams in Spain.

“He decided to come here and of course it is very important I was here and I spoke with him about it.”

Villa skipper John McGinn has described Torres as being “one step ahead in the brain” of other players.

His biggest challenge, according to Emery, has been getting used to the Premier League’s physicality. Saturday’s visit of Nottingham Forest and their striker Taiwo Awoniyi will provide the latest test.

"Each team has a striker with great qualities like tomorrow when he will face Awoniyi,” said Emery.

"But he is learning through experience and each match for him is important and improves him. Each match is a new challenge for him.”

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