After a good start to his Arsenal career, Lucas Torreira’s specialism is working against him
When Arsenal signed Lucas Torreira from U.C. Sampdoria in the summer of 2018, supporters were overjoyed. They finally had a tenacious midfielder who could provide them with defensive stability. Two years on, the Uruguayan’s time in North London looks set to conclude.
Life in Arsenal colours started well for Torreira. He formed a capable midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka, and he quickly became a fan favourite, as he brought necessary qualities to the midfield. However, injuries, his diminutive frame, and strange tactical demands made last season one to forget for the Fray Bentos native.
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In the most recent Arsecast Extra episode, Torreira’s Arsenal career was compared to Francis Coquelin‘s. Interestingly, the two are very comparable. Like Torreira, Coquelin was a breath of fresh air when he first established himself in the team because of his aggression and defensive diligence.
However, injuries – to both himself and Santi Cazorla – and limited technical ability led to his eventual departure in January 2018.
Similarly to how traditional playmakers such as Mesut Özil are struggling with the demands to do more than simply create, Torreira and other defensive midfielders – most notably N’Golo Kanté – are facing an identity crisis. They are being asked to do more than simply extinguish fires.
Under Mikel Arteta, the deepest-lying midfielder certainly has defensive responsibilities, but more importantly, he must excel in possession. Lucas Torreira is competent in possession, he can do the simple things well and can help his team-mates escape difficult situations. However, he has not shown an ability to consistently turn away from his marker or make penetrative passes into more advanced areas.
The more that I watch Dani Ceballos – whom Arsenal have prioritised as a transfer target following his impressive end to the 2019/20 campaign – the more that I think that he is suited to playing as a deep-lying midfielder. While he may lack Torreira’s defensive industry and Coquelin’s athleticism, his ability to collect and control possession is far superior. Arsenal have also been heavily linked with a move for Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey in recent months. The Ghanaian is physically imposing and athletic, and his dynamism in possession is what Arsenal’s talented head coach desires at the position.
With all of this taken into consideration, Arsenal must sell Lucas Torreira this summer. He is a capable player who could work wonders within a particular system, but he will not be missed by Mikel Arteta.
Lucas Torreira is the victim of a new tactical trend, his Arsenal career will come to an end because of it.