Arsenal Watch: Lucas Torreira

Arsenal target Lucas Torreira made his first official start of the 2018 World Cup for Uruguay in their 3-0 win against the hosts, Russia. The 22-year-old is still fairly new to international football having only made his debut in a friendly against Czech Republic in March.

Rather than utilise a 3-5-2 formation that was initially widely anticipated before kick-off, Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez instead opted to utilise the 4-4-2 formation he’s commonly used but with a diamond in midfield to provide more balance to the team.

Lucas Torreira was often positioned at the base of the diamond, sitting in front of the defence and keeping the Russian attack quiet, thus allowing the other midfielders and full-backs to push further up the field. The 22-year-old was accompanied by Nahitan Nandez and Matias Vecino acting as box-to-box midfielders with Rodrigo Bentancur the furthest of the midfielders.

You have to give Tabarez praise for the way in which he set-up the team for the final group stage game. Both offensively and defensively, La Celeste looked significantly better in comparison to their previous two World Cup games and they should carry on using this team and system going into the knock out stages of the competition.

Throughout the game, Torreira looked like an absolute warrior and fighter. The midfielder has a fantastic engine to him and covered a lot of ground throughout the game. Also, he has a constant desire and determination to win the ball from the opposition whenever an opportunity presents itself. During the game against Russia, the Sampdoria midfielder covered just over 10 kilometres on the pitch and also won five duels.

When it came to passing, Torreira often opted for the smarter option and played a simple ball to another midfielder rather than take a riskier approach that could have lost his side possession. He had a pass accuracy of approximately 94% throughout the game.

If Arsenal are able to sign the Sampdoria midfielder, it’ll be interesting to see how his positioning and awareness benefits the team. Both Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are played who like to get forward so having someone like Torreira staying back while being wary of counters could be a massive benefit.

From the looks of things, the midfielder looks absolutely fearless and isn’t afraid to get stuck in with tackles either. Torreira’s determination showed during one particular moment in the game where he attempted to block Fyodor Smolov’s cross with his head. He made three great interceptations of the ball while also committing zero fouls across the game.

In addition, for parts of the game, Torreira was chosen to take wide set-pieces as well as corners. While hard to judge from a few plays, his delivery of the ball looked rather good but it could do with some work before his delivery can be a genuine threat at goal. The 22-year-old’s corner in the 22nd minute played a part in Uruguay scoring their second of the game. While the corner itself was defended well by Russia, the ball fell to feet of Diego Laxalt whose decent shot somehow managed into the net with the help of a few deflections.

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