Optimism is mounting among Arsenal fans as the club continues to be linked with a move for powerful Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira. The Gunners have long been crying out for a holding midfielder to protect the defence and allow creative talents like Mesut Ozil to wreak havoc. Their current options are limited in this department and the tireless Sampdoria midfielder could be just the man to fill a gaping hole in their team.
Some supporters were sceptical about his ability as a tough tackling hardman in the centre of the park after learning of his diminutive stature. But those fears have largely been dispelled by his performances at the World Cup. He was a rampant ball of energy for Uruguay in their last 16 clash with Portugal, launching himself into tackles, blocking Cristiano Ronaldo on multiple occasions and generally displaying tirelessness, tactical discipline and strength on the ball.
Rumour has it that he will arrive in north London for an Arsenal medical. His father said that was the case, while Torreira himself said: “Arsenal are a good team, one of the most important in the world, but at this moment I am focused on playing for my country.” Arsenal represents a massive step up from Samdoria, a pretty mediocre Serie A side nowadays, and he could expect to earn a hefty pay rise by joining the Gunners. There is the danger of him putting in more devastating performances and rival clubs entering a bidding war for his services, and fans will hope an agreement is already in place and that the deal is a mere formality now.
Yet even if it does fall through, Arsenal have been linked with alternatives like Ever Banega and Steven N’Zonzi, who have previously played under new boss Unai Emery. It is encouraging to see the club continuing bolster their ranks with solid defensive players throughout the summer transfer window. It marks a step change from the tail end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, spent collecting attacking midfielders and strikers when there was clearly a need for defensive reinforcements.
The Gunners’ attack is well stacked with players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The priority now is to strengthen in other departments. Bernd Leno has come in to provide competition for Petr Cech, whose powers appear to have waned. The German could immediately establish himself as the first choice goalkeeper at Arsenal, and that is an exciting prospect. Sokratis Papastathopoulos has joined the revolution and he should slot in nicely at centre-back. Caglar Soyoncu and Kostas Manolas have been linked with a move to the club and that would further strengthen their spine after Per Mertesacker retired, Laurent Koscielny suffered a long-term injury and Shkodran Mustafi showed his limitations.
Stephan Lichsteiner will provide competition for Hector Bellerin at right-back, and it is great to see the club investing in tough, defensive players. Arsenal have not struggled to create chances in recent years, but they have been undone by defensive softness and sloppiness. Before getting too excited, it is worth remembering that the Gunners are still huge outsiders to win the Premiership title next season. Check reviews of the best betting websites on the market and you will find odds as long as 33/1 on Arsenal returning to the summit of English football. They are well behind Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham in the betting. But with a few more strong defensive signings and a more pragmatic boss that urges them to press, Arsenal could spring a few surprises in the 2018/19 campaign.