Midfielder | Sampdoria and Arsenal | Uruguay
If you want an example of true Uruguayan midfield doggedness then just watch Lucas Torreira.
Earning high praise as a similar player to Marco Verratti, through his all round midfield play from deep, his ability to remain calm under pressure and his mixed passing range, Torreira’s rise from Pescara to the Premier League and an international regular has been rapidly impressive.
Unless you’re an avid Serie A fan then the first you would’ve heard of him was when he was bossing Uruguay’s midfield in Russia at the World Cup and if you still hadn’t heard of him, then you will have done by the time he bossed Tottenham’s midfield in the Premier League just months later.
2018 has been…
Lucas Torreira was an effective, consistent and suave operator in Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria midfield for two seasons and it was fast becoming clear a move to a bigger club was on the horizon.
And this is the year in which Torreira became a more intelligent midfielder, adding the ability to push forward on occasion as an increasingly well-rounded middle man.
Goals and assists have never really been part of his game, netting just once towards the end of his time at Sampdoria, but that is not important in a player like Torreira, who is employed to protect the defence, keep possession and distribute the ball accordingly. They’re all things Torreira has grown to do beautifully.
International recognition came in March, making his Uruguay debut from the bench in a 2-0 victory over Czech Republic and eventually making 13 appearances for his country in the calendar year.
His first start for the national team came in Uruguay’s 3-0 thrashing of hosts Russia at the World Cup and he never looked back after that, starting both Uruguay’s Round of 16 and quarter-final clashes as the South Americans eventually went out to France. Torreira’s performances in Russia had put him on the map and a £26.5m move to Arsenal followed.
Arsenal had been longing for a player like Torreira for many, many years and the impact he’s had in North London has only cemented the fact Arsene Wenger made a huge mistake in not buying an enforcer sooner.
Not only has he added balance and consistency to Arsenal’s midfield under new boss Unai Emery, but he’s also managed to add goals and assists to his game, particularly when they’re needed most. His first Arsenal goal came in a man-of-the-match performance in his first North London Derby and his second was a winner just two games later as the Gunners could only manage a 1-0 home victory over Huddersfield.
It’s not a surprise to see the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona being linked with Torreira just six months after he arrived in England, such is the impact he’s made on the Premier League and Arsenal.
It would, however, be a surprise to see him move anywhere so soon after arriving. Arsenal are improving under Emery and so is Torreira, so a move would potentially halt his progress. North London should be his home for the foreseeable, with a potential move to a world-class European club coming in a few years.