By Edward Stratmann
Arsenal's latest foray into this summer's transfer window is undisputedly another excellent piece of business.
Indeed, securing the capture of multifaceted midfielder, Lucas Torreira, who's been one of the premier operators in his nominal position in Serie A over the last two years, adds essential quality, intelligence and toughness to Unai Emery's men.
Usually deployed at the base of midfield in a four-pronged diamond, he's developed exceptionally under the guidance of Sampdoria manager, Marco Giampaolo, who's played a crucial role in him becoming such a wonderfully skilled and consistent performer.
By instilling an exciting, possession style, that contains lots of vertical, quick combination play, but also plenty of patient ball circulation in build up, Giampaolo's philosophy has given Torreira the perfect platform to hone his skills. The 22-year-old Uruguayan was crucially granted much responsibility in terms of dictating his team's possession phases, so he's very accustomed to running an offense and constructing moves out from the back. Astute with his movement, the burly destroyer uses this to smartly manufacture pivotal overloads in varying areas of the pitch, something that will hugely benefit the Gunners when strategically playing out from the back to generate advantageous numerical superiorities.
Furthermore, his expertise at moving himself out of his rivals’ cover shadows to inherit possession in promising positions only enhances his danger, which will duly increase the efficiency of Arsenal’s work with the ball.
The owner of a sublime range of passing, he uses this to marvellous effect, thus allowing him to bypass opposition lines of pressure, switch the angle of attacks, deliver defence-splitting through balls and engage in intricate link-up play in confined spaces. Key to his efforts here also arrives through his capacity to weight his passes ideally to suit the requirements of the options he's confronted with.
This especially comes to the fore when he's looking to pinpoint teammates in advanced areas, where he distributes the ball with just the right amount of hardness to break the lines but not too fast so the intended recipient has difficulty controlling it.
A slick dribbler who has an immaculate first touch, the former Pescara sensation does a splendid job of carrying the ball upfield to either overcome his marker in a 1v1 duel, gain separation through a cunning feint or shoulder drop, or to provoke a pressing action to generate a free man ahead. The fact he's so strong, particularly in the lower body, and has such a low centre of gravity makes him extremely difficult to push off the ball. When amalgamating this with the afore, plus his blistering acceleration, formidable balance and manoeuvrability in tight spaces, it's easy to see why he's such a press resistant and challenging foe to come up against.
Contorting his body into such outstanding positions to receive the ball is another highlight, with his persistent head scans of his nearby surroundings giving him vital information to orient himself accordingly whether to shield the ball, receive and turn in one motion or instantly pass the ball to avoid pressure.
The below graphics serve as a terrific example of the above, for his head check alerts him he's getting pressed from two angles. He then shrewdly lets the ball travel slightly past the front of his body before controlling it and powering away while shielding the ball from his opponents.
Being such a powerful shooter and very adept at whipping in set pieces, this only amplifies the 22-year-old's offensive worth.
Moving onto the defensive end, and the diminutive 168 cm warrior is just as influential in this facet of the game. Constantly awake to any threats, Torreira's very aggressive and proactive when undertaking his stopping exploits. Although he can be a tad overzealous when applying his interventions, he usually exercises sound judgment when making his tackles. However, his relentless determination and spirited approach unquestionably outweighs any shortcomings present here.
When engaging in high pressing, and counter-pressing immediately after his team loses possession, he does this in similarly robust fashion, responding rapidly to triggers, such as an adversary obtaining possession with their back to goal, to triumphantly force turnovers and errors.
Torreira's immense reading of the play, anticipation and swift reaction times guarantee he supremely situates himself to win second balls too. The fact he recorded the most ball recoveries in Serie A last term, with 296, plus chimed in with 5.66 interceptions per 90 minutes aptly illustrates his aptitude in this regard.
His offensive numbers from last term supplement the afore handsomely, with him completing 54.62 passes per 90 minutes at a 89.84% success rate, 8.84 accurate passes into the final third p90, 3.72 accurate long balls per 90 minutes and 2.14 success dribbles per 90 minutes.
The scout that brought him to Italy with Pescara, Roberto Druda, even compared him with PSG's star midfielder, Marco Verratti. “He lives for football. He’s incredible. He’s like Verratti,” Druda explained to Calciomercato.
“Massimo Oddo (Torreira’s coach during his time at Pescara) and many others are convinced that Torreira can be even stronger than Marco Verratti. I see him ready with the brain he has, in addition to his technical skills and potential. It is extraordinary.”
Meanwhile, Giampaolo, his coach at Samp, then insightfully added his opinion when speaking to Corriere dello Sport, gleaming: "If Torreira were 1.8 metres tall, he would already cost €100 million and would be considered among the strongest playmakers in the world.
“He can play it short or long, wins the ball back, restarts play and always seems to know where the ball will be. He’ll go to a big club that does not care so much about his stature.”
In acquiring Torreira, who's just enjoyed a productive World Cup campaign with Uruguay, Arsenal have added yet another outstanding player to their squad, who'll undoubtedly be an essential piece of Emery's plans for the upcoming campaign.
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