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What are the expectations of Lucas Torreira?

Lucas Torreira looks ripped as he prepares to return from injury. But what can be reasonably expected of the Arsenal midfielder, both in the remainder of this season and beyond?

One of the knock-on effects of the season having been postponed for at least three months is the return of players from injury who were previously set to miss matches. Spurs, for instance, will welcome back both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Kieran Tierney is now fully fit for Arsenal, while Marcus Rashford is in contention for Manchester United.

Another who is set to return to action having previously thought that he might miss the entire season is midfielder, Lucas Torreira. Torreira suffered a nasty ankle injury in the Gunners’ FA Cup victory over Portsmouth in early-March. It was initially believed that he would return just as the season ended, which is about now.

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And Torreira has indeed indicated that he is ready to return to training, still three or even four weeks ahead of the anticipated resumption of the Premier League season in mid-late June. Posting on Twitter, Torreira stated ‘I’m back’ while showing off a photo in which he looks utterly ripped. He has, it seems, been working hard during his time off. But what can be expected of the midfielder upon his return, both for the remainder of this season and beyond?

Torreira’s time in north London has been frustrating, to say the least. He has routinely looked excellent in a defensive midfield position, ratting around, winning tackles, and providing cover against the counter-attack. He is excellent in this role, understanding when to press towards the ball and when to step off and take a more conservative approach. And yet, he has rarely been trusted in it, and has very rarely been given an extended run of starts there.

When Mikel Arteta first arrived at Arsenal, one of his first and most impactful selection decisions was to drop Torreira into a deeper role. Unai Emery’s dastardly box-to-box use of Torreira was gone. And Torreira performed superbly for a short spell, immediately looking more comfortable playing the position that he is perfectly designed to play.

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But then Arteta moved on. He turned to Dani Ceballos, seeking out the greater passing ability of the Spaniard. He felt he needed more progression from deep and saw Torreira’s more limited range of distribution as something to improve upon. As a result, Torreira dropped to the bench and did not start any of the last four league matches.

Forecasting his outlook, then, both for this season and beyond is extremely difficult. At this point, we do not know if he is going to play. And if he does, we are still not entirely certain in what position that will be. Torreira has proven to many that he is capable of playing in defensive midfield and is deserving of a longer run of starts, but questions regarding his passing persist, and they might just be the death knell of his Arsenal career.

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Torreira will look to earn his place in the starting XI upon his return to training. But even if he is fit enough to feature, Arteta seems hesitant to use him in his best role. And until Torreira is played there, it is very difficult to forecast a positive outlook for him in north London.

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