Lucas Torreira: Presenting the Prodigy

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Cameron Dhaliwal is a journalism student at Sheffield Hallam University. You can find more of his writing here, and follow him on Twitter here.

The diminutive destroyer is causing frenzy among the Italian media and Arsenal Twitter over his proposed move to the rebuilding North Londoners.

It has been a journey of resiliency for the 5-foot-5 defensive midfielder. It certainly takes belief to make the move from Uruguay to Italy as a 19-year-old. It takes even more to be an immediate starter- he has been for all of the three years he has spent in Italian football.

Torreira is reportedly edging closer to a £22m move to the Gunners, and may use this World Cup to assert himself as one of the best in his position.

He made the move to Pescara from Montevideo Wanderers (as a striker!) in 2014. He was there for the 14/15 season and on-loan for the 15/16 campaign after joining Sampdoria permanently.

The 22-year-old has been a critical player for the blucerchiati (Sampdoria’s nickname, meaning ‘blue-circled’). He is often seen dropping deep to conduct play, showing good balance and ball retention as well as high-intensity pressing and defensive concentration.

These traits sound familiar to Arsenal fans, almost a cross between Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla. For now, Torreira still has ways to go to reach that level.

In the short-term he could be the freedom that Aaron Ramsey needs to go forward, and the security Granit Xhaka needs to be more offensive in his passing. In the long-run, he could be the piece of the midfield jigsaw Arsenal lost when Santi Cazorla got injured in early 2016.

Torreira has areas to improve; offensively he only created 36 chances last season, something he would need to step up at a club like Arsenal. However, he only made 1 defensive error and was accurate and advanced with his passes, reaching an 87% pass success rate with 78% of those forward passes.

Four goals and one assist show that he isn’t afraid to contribute from deep, and will develop this side of his game at Arsenal.

He will fit Unai Emery’s high-pressing game, with his speed and determination key to winning the ball in advanced areas. His tenacious tackling and tactical awareness saw him average 2.8 tackles and 2 interceptions per game, ranking him among the very best in the Serie A.

The relentless midfielder only made his senior debut for Uruguay in March, but he had such a good campaign for Sampdoria that he made the cut for Russia. This would also explain why Arsenal are working on a deal in which they pay more than his release clause, but in instalments.

After a stellar World Cup, it may be too late to get their hands on the next world class defensive midfielder.


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