The South American country of Uraguay has produced many footballing talents that set Europe alight over the years, starting from the 1950s players like Schiaffino, Ghiggia lined up in Italy for both Milan and Roma to contribute to their club and country’s success. Of recent times Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani among others have been flying the flag for Uruguay but as ever we are always inclined to look to the next superstar that will represent the country on the grand stage.
Arguably the brightest star on the rise for “La Celeste” is midfield man Lucas Torreira who is reportedly very close to join Arsenal. To find out more about the player and his background, I spoke to Senior Editor, Social Manager of Italian Football Daily and Senior Writer for These Footy Times, Matthew Santangelo.
Q: Hi there Matthew, so give us a little background about Lucas Torreira, when you first became aware of him and when he first started showing off his talents?
A: Lucas Torreira was born in Fray Bentos, and from there, began his rise to first team football. Pescara eventually brought him aboard in 2013 from Montevideo Rangers, recognizing his unique ability and tenacious play in a small-packaged defensive midfielder. Sampdoria eventually snapped him up in the summer of 2015, but kept him in Abruzzo on loan for another year for further seasoning and growth; this is where he really showed himself to be a quality talent.
It was during the 2016-17 season back with Samp where Torreira played a pivotal role under Marco Giampaolo, and I was immediately intrigued by his ability to use his size, playmaking ability and aggressive nature to his advantage rather than letting a diminutive frame deter him from lasting in a physical league like Serie A. It was clear that Samp had something special in Torreira, and perhaps it took longer for many to realize this when both Patrik Schick and Milan Skriniar seemingly stole the spotlight before moving onto bigger stages with Roma and Inter.
Torreira remained another season, and greatly benefited from being the center of attention at the heart of a very young Sampdoria midfield with Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet. 2017-18 was the year in which Torreira became a star and proved to me that he was ready for a brighter stage – and the responsibility that comes with it.
Q: If Arsenal were to sign Torreira, what kind of player is he? Is he a midfield destroyer, playmaker etc?
A: I’d say he is a bit of both, but somewhere in the middle as he shows characteristics of each. He is fearless going into battles and isn’t afraid to throw his body around, which allows him to recover balls at a very high rate. Yet, he can circulate possession quickly and knows where his next ball is to be played without having to think much about. Torreira is a very intelligent footballer with a high work rate who can pass the ball around like a playmaker and dictate play, but also bring that defensive element to the pitch, moulding him into a complete defensive midfielder capable of running a midfield.
Q: Arsenal are currently undergoing a revolution at the moment with Unai Emery, who usually uses 2 deeper central midfielders, with Granit Xhaka expected to be a starter do you think he could be a good partner for him?
A: I do actually, yes. Torreira has plenty of ability in his game to adapt to different assignments. If Emery tasks him with sitting deep, armouring the back line and just dictating play and tempo, he can fill that role. But if Emery wants him to sit shoulder to shoulder with Xhaka and have them exchange duties, Torreira will be well-suited to make it happen. Some have compared Torreira to Marco Verratti, and even a slight mention of N’Golo Kante, but I believe he is a player that is versatile enough to demonstrate qualities of both. Pull the strings or disrupt. It will take time for Torreira to adapt, so it’s important that Emery thrusts him into a position where he won’t be thrown into the fire but can hit the ground running.
Q: Finally what would be your last words you have for Arsenal fans or even Unai Emery regarding Lucas Torreira?
A: Be patient with Lucas Torreira, and trust in his abilities. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Napoli all had interest for a reason: he has a tremendously high ceiling and world-class potential. The pressures of the Premier League and playing for a club like Arsenal can be daunting for any player, let alone a young one with this much promise and attention, but give the kid time and faith. He will repay you and has the makings of a truly elite midfielder.
You can find Matthew Santangelo on Twitter among many other places at @Matt_Santangelo
Lucas Torreira will be playing at the world cup this month if you fancy checking him out, otherwise wait for him to be rocking up to the Emirates next season.