Was Lucas Torreira simply the Wrong Man in the Right Place at a Right Time?

Torreira: the Wrong Man in the Right Place at a Right Time. by AI

When Arsenal announced the signing of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, fans were justifiably hyped. He seemed to have all that Arsenal needed at the base of the midfield, that steel and strength, the garra charrua of old Uruguayan warriors gone. He was young, good, and proved to be a fan favourite in due time.

And as it often is with these fairytales, tragedy was just beyond the door. Set to play as an advanced option in a midfield with no sense of identity under Unai Emery, Lucas Torreira was abused. We (and he) began to lose the sense of what he did best: patrolling in front of the defense and shielding.

Largely restored to his role in a midfield pivot by Mikel Arteta, untimely niggling injuries took its toll and never allowed him to secure a good run in the team.

But nothing was as devastating as his glaring deficiency in the new tactical setup under Arteta: the deepest midfielder without great physicality nor ball progression skills. Dani Ceballos fitted Arteta’s progressive preferences better and proved to be good enough defensively, despite his slight frame.

Torreira is fine at defending. He is fine at passing the ball — but he’s no Xavi. While he could work as a pure defensive midfielder, Torreira unfortunately lacks the height and raw physical strength that are so important for that role. He has found himself in a no man’s land: not quite tactically fitting but still good for first team football.

There’s not too much to be sad at. He’s only 24 now and can still play a decent role in the team. He is also a sellable asset and can more than return back the investment Arsenal made with him in the transfer market. It’s not a loss at all, just an example of how changing visions at a club can quickly make fan favourites redundant. The midfield churn continues — nobody is safe.

Agboola Israel


  1. I have a feeling that we wont buy Thomas Partey. Arteta is probably going to use Elneny in the DM position next season.

    I love Torrera. But he does not have the height required for a DM in the Premier league. We should not sell him. He is useful. we have many games to play.

      1. Yes Sue. I want us to be open to the possibility of Arsenal not signing Partey and begin to look for other options.

        Arteta started Elneny in the friendly. If he starts against Liverpool on saturday, then he will be in the first team next season.
        we should bid for Thiago Alcantra. Signing him is a no brainer.
        He has the experience and quality.
        No news yet as per Ceballos. Will he stay at Real Madrid next season?

        1. I was really surprised by that, Skills and even more so when he scored!!!
          Who do you think will start on Saturday?
          All gone quiet with Ceballos…they say no news is good news 🙏

          1. This is probably going to be Arteta’s
            formation against Liverpool

            Saliba Luiz Tierney

            Cedric Elneny Xhaka Saka

            Pepe Nketiah Aubameyang

            That left side will be key. Tierney and Saka have to release Aubameyang early enough so we can have a ruthless counter attacking game.

            We should forget about Thomas Partey for now. Not easy doing business with Athletico madrid.

      2. cheer up Sue, Elneny does grow his hair.
        My fear this window is that we lose Auba and AMN and sign two cheapos or retirement heros on an inflated wage (and I’m not referring to Messi)
        Gaby saga is getting overdue and boring now.

        1. Haha you mean now his hair has grown, his form will return with it?! 😄
          I believe we’ll keep Auba, although I’m finding it all rather tiresome now, along with Gabriel!!
          Not sure about Ainsley though, LC. Mikel likes him, but we need cash!
          Or we don’t sign anyone at all haha!!
          I hope we see some action sooner rather than later, there are lots of players to be sold!! 40 odd days until the window shuts… unfortunately it isn’t that long until the season starts!!

    1. Unfortunately, as well as Torreira’s physical limitations for the EPL, he has never settled in London with his family, having issues with the climate and language.
      It would be better for all concerned if Torreira is sold and the money reinvested in a Diawara or Roca.

    2. Torreira is great in a defensive team or for defending a lead. He’s got a strong mentality and is great under that kind of pressure. He needs to be paired with a more physical CM to get the best from him imo. I like him but agree with the article, better to move him on and find players who fit better tactically, or are at least a bit more rounded/flexible.

    3. Elneny….Noooooo. he isn’t a DM. Good when you want the ball moving around when the team is winning comfortably…

      1. Elneny is not good at dm and not good in any other position in the field…he has stamina, and that’s all…he is 2nd league level.
        Why do u think nobody un epl wants him?

  2. Why are people specially English fans obsessed with physicality so much, what was the avg height of the best team ever seen in world?? Specially their midfield how many strong big wrestlers where they playing in the middle? What was the height of the player who actually invented the role? What is the height and body structure of the player who is currently the best in this role? (Hint one played for Chelsea and one plays for Chelsea) A player should be skilled to do the job. This is football not rugby. No wonder why England never win anything on the international level because of this obsession to prefer height, physicality and stamina prefered over skill and talent. It’s about time fans need to wake up and change their 1960s mind set.

    1. Probably because us English actually watch live games, not highlights, I have a season Ticket at Arsenal and have had one for 40 years.

      The premier league is the most competitive league in the world, its is the most physical and demanding by far.

      Kante is not Makelele. I would even say that at Madrid where he made his name he was amongst the best players of his generation and then moved to Chelsea, he was ok there but he wasn’t great. Kante has one thing going for him and thats his speed, he can move across the pitch pretty fast, but even he was struggling for game time towards the end of last season.

      Take Liverpool, both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho are 1.87m and 1.88m respectively.

      Take Arsenals invincibles, the avg height was 1.8m only Ashley Cole and Freddie were under that.

      Success does come in all forms but having players more suited to the league with physicality helps alot.
      I not saying LT is a bad player, quite the opposite really but he never really felt he belonged here and his family are reported to not like the UK, its best for all parties if here were to move back to Italy, preferably to Roma in a swap deal for Diawara!

    2. Mohsan, It is not only height but more importantly,
      physical strength that matters and Torreira lacks both. He is also easily injured. FACTS ARE FACTS AND IN OUR ROUGH, TOUGH, 100 MPH PREM, HE IS JUST TOO TINY AND NOT POWERFUL(MUSCULAR) ENOUGH.

  3. Truth is, Torreira’s struggles have nothing to do with his height or strength. He is excellent defensively. His struggles are with passing. That’s the only bit the article got wrong. Torreira just can’t pass. If you want a definition of a sideways passer, look no further.

    When he partnerd Ceballos at the base against Aston Villa, I saw how much we struggled to move the ball.

    In the tactics to the end of last season, Ceballos had a simple role. Win the ball, give it to Xhaka to find the best forward pass, then run forward and provide necessary attacking support. Every now and then, the occasional drive out of defense, but the aforementioned was the more obvious pattern of play.

    With Torreira, I saw him pass the ball, and get it right back before he had an opportunity to move. I honestly don’t think it’s a hard thing to fix. If there’s one thing Lucas should take from Xhaka, it should be that extra second to survey the pitch in front of him and choose a good pass rather than trying to just pointlessly knock the ball to the nearest free teammate.

    When Xhaka arrived at arsenal, his short passing sucked. He literally overhit and underhit 5 yard passes. If he could fix that, Torreira can be fixed.

  4. Torriera was a terror playing for Uruguay in the Copa America, consistently breaking up play and harassing some of the best dribblers in the world. But, what went largely unnoticed was the limited role he was asked to play, getting the ball immediately to his midfield partner after getting possession so that he could advance it, against opposition that was not especially big or physical.

    The Premier League is known for being the most physical and tough league of the major leagues in Europe, populated from top to bottom with big, athletic and physical players. As tough as Torriera showed that he is, he simply isn’t big enough to deal with the level of physicality of the PL on a game-to-game basis. As a result, even when playing the role that he is best suited for, he was plagued by injuries. The most important ability that a professional athlete must possess is availability and that is something that, playing in the PL, Torriera, as tough as he is, at his size, may never consistently possess. (In a less physical league, different story.)

    Add to that the fact that Torriera was misused, asked to do things that he has never been able to do, and is not a fit in the system that Arteta wants to play at Arsenal and it is more than fair to say that Torriera is the wrong man, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

    Despite the lack of depth in the midfield, Arsenal should look to sell Torriera, who would be a good fit for teams in Italy and Spain and could fetch a good amount of money that could be used to acquire a player more suited to playing in the PL, in Arteta’s system.

    1. I completely agree with all the points you made about his fit in Arteta’s system. While i also believe that it would be better if we sold him for anything above 30mil to make a profit, I feel that the system with 3 in the back did not suit him at and that if this year we are planning to go with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, he would be better suited. I just think that arteta chose the back 3 due to the low quality central defenders we had and that with the new additions, considering that they adjust fast, we will see a back 4, meaning that torreira could be given another opportunity with the new system.

  5. Waste of talent. He should get out of Arsenal while he still can. He was used poorly by Emery but imo he was not better than Coquelin who did the same thing and was even better at intercepting and tackling. Coquelin was just judged as below average after 16/17 but he still recovered in 17/18 and then was sold. Coquelin at his best for Arsenal was just as good defensively as Partey who fans rave about but Partey signing is a must this window as his defending and attacking are well balanced and more complete making him world class.

  6. Im afraid if you are given a job of midfield enforcer, you have to be physically capable of doing that. Lightweight boxers would not fair against heavyweight boxers and im afraid Torriera was alway flat out pushing his body to the limit trying to battle against stronger players. The only player i have seen capable of doing that like him was Kante and even he now is struggling with injury. Torreira was a combative player but just not strong or big enough.

  7. When I tell people that Torreira and Guendouzi are the epitome of poor recruitment,,, they think I am joking.

    None of the two possess the “TECHNICAL SKILLS” for a midfielder at a big club like Arsenal, let alone the physicality and passing.

    If you want tall, muscular central defensive midfielders, you’ll continue searching and being disappointed in recruitments.

    Individual talent and dynamism are the only requirements to take us back to the top.

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