Lucas Torreira’s Arsenal career goes from strength to strength.

Signed as what most supporters believed to be a defensive midfielder in the summer, after impressing in the World Cup for Uruguay, the 22-year-old has been hugely impressive, not only with his tackling and shielding of the defence but also his incisive passing and dangerous forays into opposition territory. But on hearing Lucas describe his time in junior football in hometown Fray Bentos, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at his attacking threat.

"I played as an attacking midfielder, just in front of central midfield, or as a striker,” says the Gunners’ No 11. “I loved scoring goals and that made me very happy. My parents or family friends used to give me money when I scored. It made me really happy. I was always an attacking midfielder but then when I came to Italy one of my coaches turned me into a No.5. Nowadays I’m a central midfielder and I’m loving it."

Lucas also tells us that the 300km move from Fray Bentos to Uruguay capital Montevideo when he was 16, proved to be the pivotal event in his young career.

"I think the key moment – the moment when my professional football career began – was when I left my hometown to go to Montevideo to play for Montevideo Wanderers. It was a very difficult change for me to leave my town, my family and my friends… to leave behind my daily routines like drinking tea with my friends and chatting with my family and friends. I was moving to a big city like Montevideo where there were lots going on and I had to get to grips with a strange new city.

I was lucky because I had help from my family and my older sister Stefanie, who was living in Montevideo at the time. She helped me through what was a very intense year for me. That was the start of everything – the following year I left for Italy for a shot at changing my life and the lives of my family. But I think the key moment was the move to Montevideo."

Six years later and having now moved halfway across the globe from his hometown – 11,000 km in fact – Lucas’ performance in the Premier League this season has marked him out as a world class midfielder in the making.





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