When Atlético played in Getafe on Sunday, the wish of many Atlético fans in and outside of Spain came true: Cholo Simeone finally gave Óliver Torres minutes with the first team.
Many supporters have been waiting for this day for months, telling the world on Twitter every week that Simeone has to play the young canterano. There is no doubt that the kid from Navalmoral de la Mata is one of the biggest talents of Atlético’s youth system.
Since playing a great tournament for the Spanish U-19 National team last summer, people have been talking about him being the next Xavi, saying that he will be Atlético’s future, that with him Atleti don’t need to buy a replacement for Diego, and that Cholo has to get him to the first team, as soon as possible.
To be honest, that rings a few alarm bells for me. I don’t know if I am the only one who thinks this, but I don’t like the way some fans and the press are hyping up the young lad.
When he was substituted in on Sunday, I read tweets that would make one think Atleti had substituted in eleven Messi’s and that the wondrous Óliver Torres was just seconds away from turning the match around to bag Atlético the three points all by himself. Sorry, but what kind of expectations are those for a young lad like him?
Fact: He had a great chance to score and he played a decent match. I’d really love to see more of him. But, I don’t want people getting ahead of themselves the way they are. He is a quality player, no doubt, but please do not forget while praising him, that football is a team sport and that the guy is only 18 years old! He still has lots to learn!
Also, there are other great youth players that deserve appreciation: Saúl and Javi Manquillo. They are both the same age as Óliver, and both of them did well on the few occasions they featured for the first team.
Remember what the other Torres (Fernando, that is) said after he left Atleti? He once said in an interview, there was too much pressure on his shoulders when he started playing for the club at his young age, and that it felt like a disadvantage.
We really should learn from that, not seek out the next messiah in hopes of bringing back the glory days. Yes, these kids are promising talents, but they are young. They have to learn and make mistakes. For now, Óliver (as well as the other talents) needs one thing: TIME!
He needs time to develop, find his place in the team and on the pitch. I’m positive Cholo can develop him into a class player and I really like the way he is trying to lower expectations, not caving in to the demands of fans and the press alike.
The only thing I don’t like about the club’s handling of this is Óliver’s unknown status between the first and second teams. He trains with the first team, but unless someone gets injured, he doesn’t make the squad list for the weekend.
And unlike Saúl or Manquillo, he isn’t playing for the second team either! A young player like him does not only need the training experience with the first team, he also needs to play, even if it is with the second team.
Atleti really have to figure out a solution for this problem. If it’s quite sure he won’t make it into the squad for the match, let him train with the second team so he can play for them, and if he is too good for the second team but not yet first team calibre, consider loaning him out for a year so he gains experience in Primera or Segunda División.
But no matter what the club does, we all need to be patient with the young lad and not put all the pressure on his shoulders. His time will come, but let’s make sure it’s when he is ready for it!