Chelsea have reportedly entered the race to sign Villarreal defender Pau Torres, who is also on the radars of Manchester United.

According to a report from the Daily Mail, Chelsea will battle with fellow Premier League outfit Manchester United for the signing of Villarreal’s Spanish centre-half Pau Torres.

The 23-year-old Torres is a product of the Villarreal youth academy. Having made his first-team debut for the club back in 2016, the defender was loaned out to Malaga in the 2018/19 campaign, wherein he performed well. Since returning, the Spaniard has become a first-team regular at El Madrigal.

In the ongoing season, Torres has featured 31 times across all competitions, chipping in with two goals and two assists as well, playing a key role in the Yellow Submarine’s ascent to fifth place in the La Liga standings. On the back of his impressive performances, the 23-year-old also broke into the Spanish national team in November last year.

Torres’s rise to prominence in the past year or so hasn’t gone unnoticed, with a number of top clubs across Europe lining up to sign him. Arsenal had been credited with an interest ahead of the January window, and are still monitoring the Spaniard. Barcelona, too, are in the mix along with Manchester United. And now, Chelsea have also entered the race.

Chelsea have made plenty of progress in Frank Lampard’s first season in-charge at the club. But, defence has been an issue for the West London outfit throughout the course of the campaign. They currently have four centre-backs on the books in the form of Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma. However, none of them have been consistent enough.

Pau Torres scored on his debut for Spain (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Pau Torres scored on his debut for Spain (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Of late, Lampard has been using Christensen and Rudiger as his first-choice defensive pairing and Tomori, too, enjoys the backing of the manager, which has led to question marks over the future of Zouma. The report states that the club are open to offloading the Frenchman in the summer, and replace him with the 23-year-old Torres.

However, they will have to stave off competition from Manchester United, who are understood to be closely monitoring the Villarreal star as well. Harry Maguire’s arrival has led to a marked improvement at the back for the Red Devils.

But, they can do with adding more solidity given that neither Victor Lindelof not Eric Bailly has totally convinced, while Maguire has shown that he, too, is susceptible to the odd error, as was evident against Tottenham last month and Bournemouth this weekend. Plus, with the future of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo unclear, bolstering the centre-half department would serve United well.

Torres penned a new contract with Villarreal last year, extending his stay at the club till 2024. The Spanish international reportedly has a release clause of £45 million, which the suitors will need to trigger in order to sign him.

Chelsea, in spite of the current financial climate, have shown that they have the pull to splash the cash in the market. Manchester United, though, might be a tad unwilling to do so, given that they are prioritising the transfers of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish. It will be interesting to see how this transfer tussle between the two English giants plays out in the coming weeks.

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