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Lucas Torreira: Arsenal transfer target assessed in Uruguay’s win over Russia
Analysis of the Sampdoria midfielder's display as Uruguay top World Cup Group A
Last Updated: 25/06/18 5:58pm
Arsenal transfer target Lucas Torreira was handed his first start of the World Cup in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Russia on Monday. How did he fare?
Arsenal supporters have had to bide their time for a first meaningful glimpse of Lucas Torreira at the World Cup, but after substitute appearances in Uruguay's wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Sampdoria midfielder made the most of his opportunity to impress from the start against Russia.
Torreira, who has been the subject of a £26.4m bid from Arsenal, according to Sky in Italy, was deployed in his favoured role at the base of Uruguay's midfield as Oscar Tabarez's side made it three wins out of three thanks to Luis Suarez's free-kick, Denis Cheryshev's own goal and a late strike from Edinson Cavani.
Uruguay topple ease past to top group
Uruguay beat 10-man Russia 3-0 in Samara to secure top spot in Group A and end the hosts' perfect start to the World Cup.
Russia's attacking threat was reduced by Igor Smolnikov's first-half sending off, but Torreira played an important role in the victory nonetheless, showing speed, alertness and smart positional sense as he snuffed out danger in front of his back four. His diligent defensive cover helped Uruguay keep their third consecutive clean sheet of the tournament.
It was easy to see why he has attracted interest from Unai Emery, who reportedly sees him as an ideal fit for the defensive midfield role at Arsenal, and his industrious showing was a continuation of his performances at club level. Torreira was practically ever-present for Sampdoria last season and made more ball recoveries than any other outfield player in Serie A.
Torreira's key moments
7 – Momentarily caught out of position as he is unable to control a wayward pass from Nahitan Nandez, but Russia's counter-attack comes to nothing
17 – Alert to cut out a dangerous low cross from Cheryshev, sending the ball out for a corner
23 – GOAL! His out-swinging corner is partially cleared by Artem Dzyuba but it falls to Diego Laxalt, whose deflected shot flies in
35 – Gets across quickly deep in his own half to steal the ball from Dyuba before winning a foul from the striker
57 – Wriggles away from a group of Russian players before being pulled back by Dzyuba, who is penalised
63 – Releases Suarez with an incisive first-time path into the right channel, but the striker's cut-back is cleared
70 – Rare mistake as he is tackled by Roman Zobnin after collecting Diego Godin's free kick in his own half
78 – Takes a knock to the calf following a coming together with Daler Kuzyayev but he shrugs it off and continues
94+5 – Attempts first shot at goal from 25 yards but it's blocked by Sergei Ignashevich
Torreira impressed with the ball as well as without it against Russia. He kept his distribution simple for the most part, picking the ball up from Uruguay's defenders and shuttling it on to other team-mates to carry it forward, but he also made some more adventurous passes without straying too far from his position.
That positional discipline will be encouraging to Arsenal, whose squad is light on defensively-minded midfielders, but Torreira has technical ability, too, as shown by the fact that he was placed on set-piece duty until Giorgian De Arrascaeta's introduction in the second half. Indeed, it was Torreira's corner which led to Uruguay's second goal before the break.
Torreira's key stats
- Registered a higher pass completion rate (94.6 per cent) than any of his team-mates
- Made the most interceptions (three) and won the most fouls (four) of any Uruguay player
Torreira's diminutive frame means he is unlikely to win many aerial duels, but he is strong on the ball and there were several occasions against Russia when his low centre of gravity worked in his favour. Over the course of the game, he won more fouls (four) than anyone else on the pitch.
It remains to be seen whether Torreira will keep his place in the team in the last 16, but with Spain or Portugal Uruguay's most likely opponents, they will certainly need someone who can hold things together at the base of midfield. Arsenal supporters will hope he gets the nod. They will also be encouraged by what they have seen so far.
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