'Thank you, Torres!' - Man City's bargain buy has provided Pep with a priceless alternative in attack

Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Marseille vs Manchester City
The emergency striker became the youngest Spaniard to score in three successive Champions League games after netting in a 3-0 win at Marseille

Ferran Torres has quietly made an impressive start to his Manchester City career.

The Spain international has had to wait patiently for his chances since joining from Valencia during the summer for a bargain £21 million ($27m), but he has been making the most of them when they have come along.

Torres' crucial opener in the 3-0 Champions League victory over Marseille on Tuesday night means that only Raheem Sterling has been involved in more goals for City this season.

As well as netting three times for his new club, the winger has also already racked up two assists – not bad for a player that has started just four of City’s opening nine matches and was an unused substitute in three of the others.

With injured strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus left behind in Manchester, Torres was given the demanding role of playing as the central striker in France.

Pep Guardiola admitted that it is not an easy role – particularly for a youngster used to stretching opponents by playing as wide as the dimensions of the pitch will allow.

However, Torres clearly doesn't lack self-belief. Any player willing to take over the No.21 shirt from club legend David Silva clearly has the courage to take on any challenge.

Torres battled gamely all night at the Stade Velodrome, even though chances were few and far between against an unadventurous Marseille side that played with five in defence and rarely made it out of their own half.

He earned his goal and the praise of his manager.

“Ferran has settled [in Manchester] really well,” Guardiola said afterwards. “He’s not a striker, so I would congratulate him and say: 'Thank you for making the effort to play in this position'.

“It’s not easy as a striker playing a 4-5-1 because there are lots of players there and no space around but he got a goal.

“Until Gabriel and Sergio come back, we don’t have many strikers, so now we have the option of playing Ferran in this position.”

Aguero could face another month out after suffering a hamstring injury but it is hoped that Jesus could return in the next 10 days.

Torres, at least, has shown that he can a viable alternative to Sterling, who has generally taken on the role of emergency striker.

The 20-year-old has now scored in his last three Champions League appearances, becoming the youngest Spanish player to achieve the feat.

He is also only the second City player, after Mario Balotelli in 2011, to score in his first two Champions League appearances for the club.

His first came in last Wednesday's 3-1 win over Porto when he came on as a second-half sub, along with Phil Foden.

They combined brilliantly to carve open a stubborn defence for the third goal that killed off the game, with Torres smashing a fierce strike into the top corner.

The pair have already struck a lively partnership, with his fellow 20-year-old adding energy and enterprise to a tired side that is struggling to find its rhythm after a testing start to the campaign.

Ferran Torres Phil Foden Manchester City 2020-21 GFX

They linked up well again in the Velodrome, with Guardiola refreshing his side by giving a youthful look to his front line.

Foden played on the left, after earning his recall by turning the match against West Ham at the weekend, and he was again City’s liveliest player, having a hand in City’s second goal that was finished by Ilkay Gundogan before Sterling wrapped up a comfortable victory.

With two wins from two, City have taken strong control of group C.

A hectic schedule means that Guardiola would dearly love to qualify for the knockout stages as quickly as possible and four points from the next two matches against group outsiders Olympiakos would almost certainly achieve that goal.

“It’s important to start the Champions League with two victories because it helps us. We are so close now to being in the last 16,” the City boss added. 

Torres’ Champions League goals may have come very early in the season, but they could potentially prove to be very important to City's outcomes. Just like his vim and versatility.

Man City's bargain buy might just provide Guardiola with a priceless alternative in attack.