Arsenal’s new signing Lucas Torreira shone bright playing for his country Uruguay at the World Cup and showed his ability to play on a top level. The main question after La Celeste got knocked out was: Is Torreira going to bring this performance to his new club Arsenal?
As we could see in Russia where Uruguay reached the quarter-finals the 22-year-old had a great contribution to his team’s performance. The new signing came from Serie A side Sampdoria where he started in 36 games last season. As a defensive midfielder, he was a key figure for his club that finished in the middle of the table.
Style of play
The Uruguayan uses mostly short passes and is really good at ball interception. He always plays on a high speed and does tons of tackles although he does not commit fouls often. In fact, he was booked only 6 times during the Serie A season. Compared to that his new fella Granit Xhaka was booked 10 times in 38 games. Usually, his position is in the central midfield with a more defensive role, trying to keep the possession of the ball. As his new partner-to-be Xhaka, Torreira likes to shoot from distance, scoring 4 goals for Sampdoria last season. He is trying to be in total control of the central area and that really helps both the defenders and the attacking midfielders as it gives them the opportunity to concentrate on their attacking role.
He has an intrinsic understanding of the game. If we take a closer look to the data, he made 101 tackles last season reaching the top 3 in Serie A. He also managed 72 interceptions to rank 5th in the league.
As we can see from his heat map he spends 87% of his time on the pitch in the centre field.
Torreira is really good at making smart passes and always finds a way to surprise his rivals. He makes it look easy and it looks like he has eyes in the back of his head. His concentration plays a huge part in his performance as he can see each one of his teammates on the pitch.
There is some proof of his skills:
The ball comes from the central midfielder Praet. Despite choosing to give it back to the defence or on his left to the other central midfielder Karol Linetty he realizes that Gaston Ramirez is in a perfect position to start an attack.
Torreira receives the ball from the second striker Caprari and he immediately sees the captain Quagliarella on a great position. Here Linetty makes a good off the ball movement pretending that he wants to receive the ball but actually goes deep in the box.
Off the ball movement
Torreira is not a goal scoring machine but he always tries to challenge the defenders. He is showing great off the ball movement and he creates a lot of confusion for the opponents with his unrestricted moves. He is often a great distraction and leaves the space open for the forwards while he lures the defenders.
The new Arsenal signing is capable of great defensive moves and is always there to cover the empty spaces that his teammates leave.
In the game against Russia the Uruguayan right-back Martin Caceres lost his defensive duel with Denis Cheryshev and Torreira had to cover his back.
Here the left-back Ivan Strinic lost the loose ball duel and Lucas had to react quickly covering his back and trying to fill the gap left in the defensive line.
Strengths: interceptions, long shots, passing, tackling, off the ball movement
Weaknesses: Aerial duels
His main weakness is the aerial duels. The Uruguayan is only 168 cm tall and often gets hard time to compete against taller players. That does not mean he is not trying at all. Lucas puts an effort in every aerial duel and eventually, he wins some of them.
How is the 22-year old going to impact the Arsenal’s squad?
We already mentioned his defensive abilities and that’s exactly what the Londoners need. Along with the other new signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopolous he is going to give a hand to Shkodran Mustafi who is not as consistent in his performance as he is expected to be. The German defender is not really good at decision-making and Lucas should be a great addition if something goes wrong in the back line.
The other player that will benefit from his arrival is Granit Xhaka. In some areas, Torreira is the exact opposite of the Swiss international. Xhaka commits fouls often and lacks concentration which happens to be the reason for his bad performance. His defensive skills are far from perfect too. But they have things in common too. Both are extremely good at passing the ball and both of them like long distance shots. The one thing we are going to see once the season starts is if the new coach Unai Emery is going to use them both or keep one of them on the bench.
Torreira is going to be really useful for the front line too. The best thing is that Aaron Ramsey is going to have more space and time to participate more in the build-up. His off the ball movement could be pretty astonishing once he has some support.
If he plays on his full potential Lucas is going to bring more confidence and stability into the squad. The truth is that after The Invincibles Arsenal lacks real warriors like Patrick Vieira and not to say a word but signing Lucas Torreira may be the first step of The Gunners getting back to their true identity.