According to an official club announcement, U.S. international Juan Pablo Torres has signed a three year contract with Belgian first division team Sporting Lokoren.
The 18-year-old midfielder hails from Lilburn, Georgia, where he grew up playing in the Georgia United development system. Though Lokoren provided Torres’ first professional international contract, the central-defending midfielder has gone through training stints with La Liga side Sevilla as well as Schalke 04 of the German Bundesliga.
Lokoren finished last season in 11th of 16 teams in the Belgian Jupiler League, and are looking to bolster their depth in the central midfield. This season, they opened up their Jupiler League campaign with a 0-4 defeat to last season’s runner-ups, Club Brugge. Torres was listed on the bench for that match, his first with the team.
Since the summer of 2013, Torres has been connected with a U.S. national team on some level. That year, he participated in the U-14 boys’ national team camp, before getting youth national call-ups to the U-15, U-16 and U-18 teams in the following years.
While Torres hasn’t been a regular feature on the youth national teams, he has made seven appearances for the U.S. U-15 national team, four for the U-16s, and four for the U-18s. With the fresh dive into European football, Torres hopes that this career move will help him progress his overall skills at every level.
In a statement released on the club’s official website, Torres said, "It is of course a huge step, at all levels. I am committed to adapting myself to life here in general, especially football, as quickly as possible. I'm proud to be a player of Sporting Lokeren."