With high expectations of Euro 2016 winners Portugal at this summers World Cup, few thought they’d fall to Uruguay at the round of 16, but even fewer thought the five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo would be marked out of the game by one man: Lucas Torreira.
The tough-tackling centre defensive midfielder has been at the heart of Le Celeste, breaking down play but also adding a creative impetus to Uruguay, who almost too often rely on the dynamic striker partnership of Barcelona and PSG forwards Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. Torreira, born in Fray Bentos, a small town just three hours drive from Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, stood out from the crowd last season, winning the most tackles (198) and making the most interceptions (158, via Squawka) in the Serie A for Sampdoria.
What goes unnoticed about Lucas Torreira is his ability ON the ball. The dynamic Uruguayan created SEVEN goalscoring chances for his nation in this afternoons defeat to France in the quarterfinals. This combination of a steely defensive workhorse and an innovative playmaker makes him a perfect match for Arsenal.
The Gunners have struggled without talisman Santi Cazorla, who has missed the last 18 months of first-team football. Arsenal have only won 39% of games when the magical Spaniard has been absent, a very modest 65% when he’s out on the pitch. In Torreira, the Gunners hope to combine the footballing talent of Santi Cazorla with the steeliness of Francis Coquelin. This two in one package that is the small Uruguayan can combine excellently with Swiss powerhouse Granit Xhaka, who likes to patrol the deeper zones of midfield.
This combination could also prove to be vital in plugging Arsenal’s poor brittle defense, as well as adding legs to an often slow and slack midfield. Torreira’s introduction could also enable Aaron Ramsey to not only stay but take up the number ten position he so desperately wants to play.
Paying £26m is a fairly low-risk move in today’s market but looking simply at the statistics, it looks like a move that should pan out well for the Gunners as they try their best to get back into the top four.