After Arsenal’s reported interest in Lucas Torreira ramped up more and more over the last week, the age-old question began to resurface: “Have the Gunners finally found their rock-solid defensive midfielder?” I’m here to tell you that unfortunately- the answer is both no and yes. After watching several youtube compilation videos, I can confirm I have developed an expertise in his playing style that few others can bost. In all seriousness, however, I have followed Sampdoria for a while, and while Torreira is not your conventional “stay back and pass to the defence” defensive midfield piece (think Jordan Henderson), he is an excellent player with a good defensive work rate that will improve Arsenal’s midfield.
Like Xhaka, Torreira can spray passes with impressive ability, both long and short. However, unlike Xhaka, Torreira possesses both pace and a strong work rate. He is unafraid to bomb both up and down the field and possesses immense ball winning skills. Next, Torreira is physical and is not afraid to put his body on the line for the ball despite his size. That effort and desire should make him an interesting partner for the ever-passionate, but notoriously lazy, Xhaka. Finally, he has a wicked right foot on him- it is not out of the realm of possibility that we see him score quite a few dipping and curving long shots and free kicks in an Arsenal jersey.
The obvious weakness to be addressed would be Torreira’s height. He stands only 168cm tall and needless to stay, winning aerial duels is not his strong suit. He also has a tendency to bomb forward to support the attack, which could set up Arsenal to be exposed on the counter. In addition, this desire to join the attack could make him a poor full-time complement to Ramsey, who is partial to making long supporting runs as well.
Assuming the transfer goes through
Best Case Scenario: Torreira is everything Arsenal have needed in the midfield for the last 5 years, the perfect mix of Kante and Cazorla. Emery institutes a rigid tactical structure in his game, and he learns to stay back and defend while still utilizing his passing range as an effective link between the defence and attack. Ramsey thrives in a more attacking role without displacing Ozil, and the additional support Torreira provides with his interventions benefits Mustafi/Koscielny/Sokratis etc. He proves to be the signing of the season and leads Emery to a domestic triple in his first season.
Worst Case Scenario: Torreira attacking runs cause him to not be the midfielder Arsenal needed this window. His lack of stature is exposed by the physical nature of the Premier League and he finds himself often shoved off of the ball by the players of hard Brexit teams like West Ham and Cardiff City. He suffers through several years of abuse both on the pitch by players and off the pitch by “fans” and becomes another player on the “what could have been” list.
Overall consensus: Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Torreira signing. I feel that even if he doesn’t become the more structured defensive midfielder I see him being, he can still have a big roll in the clubs future. Out of Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, and- hopefully- Leno, this is the one that most makes me think that we are showing a title-winning level of ambition. I will be delighted if we secure his signing, and he seems tailor-fit to help us improve.