How Lucas Torreira has become Arsenal’s most important player

Unai Emery revealed after Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend why Lucas Torreira asked to be substituted after 79 minutes. He was tired.  Anyone who has seen the 22-year-old play will understand exactly how he’d be so shattered just three months into the new season.

Lucas Torreira joined Arsenal this summer from Sampordia for £26 million. His arrival started talks around Emirates that finally the new recruitment team under Unai Emery has brought a player whose presence was missed in the last few years of Arsene Wenger. At 5 ft 5 inches, he’s not a massive physical presence. But there’s still plenty of steel in the Uruguayan. He is a natural ball winner with an uncanny ability to win possession, and an ability harass attackers across the pitch. Operating in central midfield, Torreira has offered a combative presence, providing his back four with protection while his use of the ball has been similarly impressive.

Although Arsenal secured his services before the World cup, Torreira’s performance in the World cup has been pretty much impressive in Uruguay’s shirt. Sven Mislintat, the scout who scouted Torreira, focused Torreira as somebody who may very well be essential to Arsenal within the coming seasons, a tenacious midfielder who possesses a mix of defensive and attacking qualities.

Along with Matteo Guendozi and Granit Xhaka, Torreira forms a three-man midfield in Emery’s team which protects the defense and performs sublime passing to attacking midfielder, Ozil. The most interesting thing in Torreira’s playing style is that he can adapt to different roles very quickly. Till date, Emery has used him in three distinct, different roles in midfield.

The first being a defensive shield on a 4-2-3-1 in which he usually plays. Along with Xhaka, he provides a defensive layer in front of the back four which can act during counter attacks. As Ozil and Mkhitaryan are weak at defending, Torreira delivers the perfect balance to the midfield. The second role in which Lucas plays is a box to box midfielder. Unlike some of Arsenal’s midfielders in recent seasons, Torreira can both defend well and add an attacking threat. During a 4-3-1-2, he becomes a traditional box-to-box midfielder at the heart of the Gunners midfield. The third role and the most decisive one is a deep-lying playmaker. In this formation, Aubameyang could lead the line but this time in something closer to a front three with Ozil and Mkhitaryan forming a diamond with Ramsey. Ramsey would operate in a slightly deeper role while Torreira and Xhaka block either channel while defending and alternate in pressing on while Arsenal are on the attack.

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