Pau Torres is determined to help hometown club Villarreal to a historic Europa League triumph as the defender blocks out speculation linking him to opponents Manchester United.
The Yellow Submarine are eyeing the first major trophy in their 98-year history when they take on the Old Trafford giants in Gdansk on Wednesday.
Torres has been among the most discussed players in the build-up to the final as the defender’s exceptional displays have seen him linked to United, having previously been on Manchester City’s radar.
But the 24-year-old Spain international is ignoring such background noise ahead of representing his local team on their biggest night.
“Well, as you will understand, one day before the most important game of my life, I won’t think about anything else than what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Torres said.
“All my work and my team-mates’ work has been good, and this shows it.
“I’ve got my contract with Villarreal, which is my town, so I’m very quiet about it, very calm.”
Torres is among a number of players experiencing such an occasion for the first time but Villarreal boast a Europa League expert as manager.
Unai Emery led Sevilla to a hat-trick of successes from 2013-14 to 2015-16, then suffered defeat with Arsenal in the all-English final against Chelsea in 2019.
“Every final is different,” said the Spaniard, who has guided Villarreal to the final unbeaten. “The four previous finals I’ve played, in some I was favourite and some others I was not.
“To be favourite, it’s always before the game, isn’t it? Then when you play those 90 minutes, to be able to have situations on your side, offensively, defensively, that mood, that spirit you can create in your team plays a lot.
“For tomorrow we are very enthusiastic, we have got answers from the team at some important moments of the season so we know now we have a very, very strong and robust team.
“Of course Manchester United can be favourite, they are very good and if they play their best they can beat anyone but we will try and find some responses against this big team.”
Emery has enjoyed a promising first season at the Villarreal helm after a challenging spell at Arsenal, which came to an abrupt end when he was sacked in November 2019.
Asked if he felt he had something extra to prove after his spell at the Gunners – who he knocked out in the Europa League semi-finals – the Spaniard said: “No, not at all. Not at all.
“I am very proud to be able to defend this Villarreal project, the president and everyone who has been working for years to be constructing in this village, in the end, such a big football project in Europe.
“I want to enjoy it. There’s no revenge with any English team or English people.
“I’m proud to work in this club and proud to be playing this final, defending Villarreal’s colours.”