While it would be unfair to describe Manchester City’s summer as underwhelming, their transfer business only touched the sides of the impending squad rebuild.
Yes, any club to part with £127.5m cannot be said to have had a quiet window but that outlay covered the cost of just three first-team players after a season in which the dethroned Premier League champions felt in need of greater renewal.
Even so, all three have made promising starts. Ruben Dias has slotted into the centre of defence comfortably and should finally have a run of games alongside Aymeric Laporte now that City’s first-choice centre-back is fit again.
Nathan Ake is cover – and costly cover, at a price of £41m – but is the left-footed backup that City need for Laporte and has demonstrated his versatility, filling in at full-back against Arsenal.
The most promising of all three, however, is Ferran Torres. The £20.9m summer signing from Valencia has three goals from four games’ worth of minutes after finding City’s breakthrough at the Stade Velodrome on Tuesday night.
Torres had already scored away to Burnley in the EFL Cup and in the previous week’s Champions League win at the Etihad against Porto, finishing off a fine piece of interplay with Phil Foden.
Like Foden, Torres is just 20-years-old. Despite this tender age, he has not appeared intimidated by filling the shirt of his former idol David Silva.
Torres used to wait outside Valencia’s training ground as a boy for Silva’s autograph and before making his City debut, he spoke of the sense of responsibility he felt wearing the No 21. Up until now, he has not been overawed.
Torres could be disappointed not to have come on for City during the latter stages of Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at West Ham, as Pep Guardiola’s side searched frantically for a winner.
But Guardiola’s faith in the young winger was demonstrated by his decision to make him City’s focal point against Olympique Marseille, deploying him as a central striker in the absence of both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
Torres did the job. The highlight of his evening was undoubtedly the instinctive, first-time finish on Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross to put his side ahead after 18 minutes but it was by no means the only bright moment.
Torres’ intelligent running off the ball and movement into space was noticeable throughout, even if it wasn’t always spotted by his team-mates. His pressing of a nervy Marseille defence created a good chance for Oleksandr Zinchenko, with the Ukrainian striking the post.
Guardiola was impressed with how his new signing had coped with the demands of an unfamiliar role.
“I would say that Ferran’s not a striker,” he said, in the most complimentary way possible. “I want to congratulate him and say thank you for making the effort to play in this position.
“He scored a goal and it’s not easy as a striker playing against 5-4-1. There are a lot of players there and not many spaces around so it’s not easy but we don’t have many options until Gabriel and Sergio come back, so we have an alternative playing Ferran in this position.”
Torres’ future will not be at centre-forward and Jesus is expected back to lead City’s line sooner rather than later, potentially before the international break.
But Torres’ performance in Marseille showed that – even at his young age – he can be relied upon to adapt and take on responsibility. One of the first pieces of City’s rebuild to come is already showing promise.