Lucas Torreira: Arsenal have an uniquely exciting prospect on their hands
Unai Emery has set his sights on the Sampdoria midfielder as a means of rebuilding his squad to challenge for a top four spot.
New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been given a £50 million transfer fund to rebuild his squad into one capable of challenging for a place in the Premier League’s top four, with a bulk of that budget set to be spent on Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira.
As reported by the BBC, the Gunners have been heavily linked with a £26 million move for the central midfielder, who is currently away with Uruguay at the World Cup.
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Central midfield has long been a problem area for Arsenal and Emery believes Torreira to be the ideal fit both technically and financially after enjoying a fantastic season with Serie A club Sampdoria.
In truth, it’s a surprise big clubs aren’t circling around Sampdoria’s star as £26 million is an absolute steal for a up-and-coming talent, especially in today’s drastically inflated market.
The 22-year-old is a highly intelligent footballer, combining a technical proficiency with a typical Uruguayan robustness and a high level of energy, all of which are traits Arsenal have found their midfield lacking in recent seasons.
Torreira’s skillset is highly unique. Not only is he a capable ball-winner, but the midfielder also boasts a delightful range of passing and a vision that belies his youth, effectively performing two roles in one.
The only discernible weakness, though, is that he’s not strong in the air, given his diminutive stature. It makes him most effective, therefore, in a double pivot, rather than as a sole holding midfielder in a 4-3-3, for example.
Two roles in one
Standing at five foot five, many would perceive Torreira’s height as a disadvantage, though the 22-year-old has ensured he uses it beneficially, utilising his low centre of gravity to dribble his way out of tight areas and relieve pressure.
For example, Torreira completed 35 total dribbles, successful 79.5% of the time. Couple this with losing the ball only once per game and this makes for a highly reliable and press resistant central midfielder.
As Sampdoria’s most influential player, this role was vital. He was tasked with retaining the ball, plus recycling and progressing possession through his passing. This is something the Gunners have lacked since Santi Cazorla.
His 87.2% passing accuracy is marginally better than Granit Xhaka’s, whilst he managed 36 key passes in 36 Serie A appearances -only three less than Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder- and one assist.
The fact that he completed 2.5 long balls per game, in addition, suggests he’s not just a short passer and possesses the ability to pass vertically through the lines.
As mentioned, Torreira’s strength is far superior than his height would suggest and he’s a more than competent defensive midfielder, as well as passer.
The fact that the Uruguayan has made the most tackles (198), interceptions (158) and drawn the most fouls (174) since 2016/17 in the Serie A is a testament to this fact.
Furthermore, Torreira made more interceptions per game (2.8) than Xhaka in 2017/18, as well as double as many interceptions per game (2).
A player with this diverse a skillset is an absolute gem, and it’s astonishing that Arsenal seem to be the only club linked to the 22-year-old, especially at the reported price of £26 million.
His energy, mobility and diversity make him an ideal fit for the dynamism and many aspects of English football and Arsenal will have an exciting prospect on their hands if they get this deal across the line.
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