Express & Star

Aston Villa's Pau Torres excited by Champions League challenge

Pau Torres says he can’t wait to face Europe’s best in the Champions League with Villa.


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The centre-back was among the club’s non-international players who returned to Bodymoor Heath this week to begin pre-season training, aiming to build on an impressive first campaign in the Premier League.

Torres, who joined from Villarreal for £31million last summer, made 29 top flight appearances as Unai Emery’s team finished fourth and secured the club’s return to Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 1983.

The 27-year-old, who reached the semi-final of the competition with Villarreal in 2022, is eager to enjoy similar success at Villa.

He said: "We have a tough season in front of us with a great challenge like the Champions League, so we need to be ready and prepare to play in the same way in all the competitions.

“The Premier League is so important but also tough. During the first months we will play in the Champions League. We are excited and we want to play against big teams."

Torres, capped 24 times by Spain, was a slightly surprise omission from Luis de la Fuente’s Euro 2024 squad.

But the break from playing may have been no bad thing from Villa’s perspective, with Torres now refreshed and ready to attack the new season.

"I needed the holidays because the last season was a tough one,” he said.

"When I met some friends and we spoke about my first year here, obviously we commented about the achievements with the club and myself as well. I spoke with them about it and at the end, you stop and think about your first season. I am really happy with it.

"It is nice now to see your tea-mates again and speak about the summer. Now we start again with the amazing season in front of us. I am really, really excited.

"As well, we have now six weeks in front to start again the work we were doing last season and to spend time with our teammates. It is a good moment in the year to prepare for the new season.”

Villa begin their pre-season campaign at Walsall next Wednesday, before heading to Slovakia to face Spartak Trnava on July 20.

Emery’s men then embark on a tour of the US, where they will play Columbus Crew, RB Leipzig and Club America, before finishing off with friendlies against Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund. Villa kick-off their Premier League season at West Ham on August 17.