Tag Archives: Lucas Torreira

How would long-term Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot fit in?

Long term reported Arsenal target Adrien Rabiot has announced that he is set to leave PSG on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old central midfielder was linked with Arsenal over 6 years ago; when he was just a 17-year-old who had yet to play a game.

Over the years, he has been in and out of the PSG team and missed out on France’s World Cup success after refusing to be put on the reserve list.

A tall, elegant central midfielder, he has never really fulfilled his potential that he showed as a teenager – with PSG preferring the midfield partnership of Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti as he struggled to break through.

Last season under Unai Emery he played 50 games – starting 27 in the league and 8 in the Champions League.  He has continued to be first choice under Thomas Tuchel.

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave Arsenal as a free transfer, Arsenal could well see Rabiot is an indirect replacement.

Signing Rabiot would mean that Arsenal could cash in on Mohamed Elneny and line up with midfield options of:

Grant Xhaka
Lucas Torreira
Adrien Rabiot
Matteo Guendouzi
Ainsley Maitland-Niles

It would be an exciting group of central midfielders with plenty of strength and would more than cover Emery’s preference of playing 2 deep midfielders; with one out and out defensive and the other box-to-box in his favoured 4231 formation.

A sticking point would be as to what role Rabiot would play.

Emery has previously spoken about Rabiot being a defensive midfielder rather than a box-to-box; with the Frenchman believing he is more box-to-box.

Emery said: “Let’s talk about Rabiot. He’s a central midfielder, who is more comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder rather than a creative one. Even if he remains more of box-to-box, rather than a defensive midfielder.

“When you want to play with a defensive, creative and box-to-box-midfielders in fixed positions, Rabiot finds himself confronted to a problem. He has to run, run, run and not play in a fixed position statically. And even less so with his back turned on the action.

“Rabiot doesn’t really like playing as a defensive midfielder, he likes playing as a box-to-box, but I prefer him as a defensive midfielder. That’s why after the elimination against Real Madrid [in the 2017/18 Champions League], I told him he would play as a defensive midfielder.

“In that position, he can be faced with play and switch around with [Marco] Verratti. He is more competitive in these conditions. With certain players, you can’t impose a strict idea. You have to adapt yourself to their characteristics in order to win in individual and collective competitiveness.”

Another sticking point could be salary.

BeIN Sport reported earlier this month that Rabiot had turned down a new contract for a third time, with PSG reportedly offering him £6.32m a year to remain with the Ligue 1 champions. That works out to a little over £120,000 a week.

Granit Xhaka is reportedly on £90,000 a week; Lucas Torreira on £75,000 a week.

All 3 players are equally as talented, and would be in a fair fight for the 2 central midfield roles. What would it do to squad harmony if we bought Rabiot in on twice as much money (potentially) as Lucas Torreira?

Some will say that Rabiot is superior to Xhaka and therefore justifies the higher salary. However Emery is unlikely to see it that way.

Xhaka is box-to-box in the current set up, with Torreira as the more defensive option. Rabiot would more likely be competing with Torreira to play behind Xhaka.

Regardless, all 3 are close when it comes to their talent. To have vastly different salaries could be dangerous.

As seen, Rabiot would not be guaranteed a starting place at Arsenal. Himself, Xhaka and Torreira would be rotated – so would all still get plenty of game time. Would Rabiot go from regular starter at PSG to rotational starter at Arsenal?

A move for Rabiot would be a positive one for Arsenal. There are plenty of minutes to accommodate 3 top class midfielders and still find enough time to bleed through Matteo Guendouzi.

Guendouzi is still just 19 and would not have expected to have played so much this season – 9 starts in total in the league. He is still developing and is not yet at the standard of Rabiot, Torreira or Xhaka.

You can easily see a situation that in 3 years time, Arsenal cash in on a then 29-year-old Xhaka and promote Guendouzi. He will still be just 22-years-old (the same age as England’s next big talent Harry Winks is now!).

Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey & Torreira have started 44 league games between them this season; so it is clear that there are plenty of games to go around.

The one loser would be Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but he would still have a future at the club.

Firstly he is a home-grown talent; which is very important. Secondly he can cover central midfield, left and right back, and is competent on the flanks.

Maitland-Niles is still just 21. He would get plenty of game time in the cups and would get the odd league game. His future at Arsenal is as a utility man.

Would I sign Rabiot on a free? Yes

Keenos

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How have Arsenal’s new boys settled in?

With us in the middle of the most boring time in football – a pointless international break filled with glorified friendlies, it is perhaps a chance to reflect on the start of the season, and see how the new boys have bedded in.

Bernd Leno

To many peoples frustration, Petr Cech start began the season as first choice keeper.

Unai Emery’s philosophy is that new players have to force their way in, to prove that they are better than the incumbent first team players. This led to Cech starting the season as number 1.

Leno’s opening came when Cech limped off injured against Watford in the league. Prior to that he had only played in the Europa League and League Cup – where he conceded goals but did not have much to do.

Against Watford he looked a little shaky, coming off the bench. However he made some smart stops and distribution was excellent.

Fulham was a vastly improved performance, with some sharp saves. He could have done little with their goal.

It will take a while for him to get used to the physical side of the Premier League – with the bumping and barging at corners. His shot stopping and distribution are certainly up to standard.

With Cech set to miss the next 3 or 4 games, Leno will have plenty of time to establish himself as first choice.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The experienced Swiss right back has not had much of a chance this season.

Beyond a substitute appearance at left back versus Manchester City, his 3 starts have been limited to the Europa League and League Cup.

His influence on the pitch may well be happening at the training ground, however.

Lichtsteiner has bought some leadership to the playing squad, and you have to feel that he has bought his winners mentality to the training ground.

We have also seen improvements in Hector Bellerin as the season has gone on. The presence of Lichtsteiner must surely be helping to push the Spaniards performances to the next level.

It would not overly surprise me if Lichtsteiner’s one-year deal was extended by a further 12 months.

Sokratis

Greek centre back Sokratis (I can not be bothered to Google his surname) has split opinion.

Some have labelled him clumsy, slow and uncultured, whilst others have praised him for being aggressive, and focusing on defending and clearing the ball.

I fall into the later camp.

We focus too much on ball playing centre backs. “Rolls Royce defenders” like Rio Ferdinand. Players like the now retired Englishman who looked classy but could also defend are few and fair between.

Sokratis is a defender. He defends. That is what he is paid for.

What he creates is a rock at the back that others can play around. A reliable defender that will let Arsenal go out and get a ball playing partner, knowing they have a solid option next to him.

He is more Vidic than Ferdinand, and is exactly what Arsenal have needed for a decade.

Lucas Torreira

Uruguayan central midfielder Lucas Torreira has been a revolution since he broke into the team. He is exactly the player we have been missing for some years.

Like Sokratis, he understands his role within a balanced XI. He is there to defend, to shield the back 4, to provide them cover. His influence on the entire team is obvious to all.

Torreira not only defends, however. He can also play. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has given the side another passing option alongside Xhaka.

The sign of a top player is they make those around them look better, Torreira has done this with Xhaka. It is a partnership that we can look forward to developing as the years role on.

It is incredible to think that Torreira is just 22-years old. He will deveop into one of the best central midfields in the world.

Whilst Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool went big on Fred, Jorginho, Fabinho and Kieta, Arsenal secured Torreira for just £22m – we clearly got the best player.

Onwards and upwards for the lad!

Mattéo Guendouzi

The greatest compliment you can give Matteo Guendouzi is that people are now wondering why we did not cash in on Aaron Ramsey in the summer.

Football is easy in hindsight, and no one could have guessed when we signed the 19-year old Sideshow Bob impersonator from the French Division 2 for just £7million that he would be pushing senior team mates down the pecking order.

The fear for the club over the summer with Ramsey is that we only had 2 senior midfielders – Xhaka and Elneny. Torreira was a new signing and Guendouzi was coming in to be on the fringes of the first team squad. He was pencilled in for the Europa League and League Cup.

Due to players returning from the World Cup, Guendouzi got some game time. And he has proved the old age correct. If you are good enough, you are old enough.

People already actually forget that he is just 19. He is younger than Mason Mount, who was called up for the England squad after some impressive displays in the Championship.

He has not been perfect this season. He is a little bit slow on the ball when passing, and doesn’t easily make space for himself to receive the ball off the defenders. But he is 19-years old, and will improve.

Guendouzi has moved ahead of Elneny in the pecking order and is first choice back up for Xhaka and Torreira. His performances are going to save Arsenal a lot of money when it comes to Ramsey leaving.

The Frenchman will have a bad patch. All young players do. But with the squad depth around him, Emery will be able to take him out when he is performing poorly.

This lad has a bright future.


In summary, the first full transfer window for Sven Mislintat has been a success. He has added some experienced leaders to the squad, and signed some very talented young players.

He seems to have bought pro-active planning to Arsenal’s transfers for the first time in years.

Keenos

The Influence of Lucas Torreira

He comes from Uruguay, he’s only 5-foot high

It took a few games for Unai Emery to integrate Lucas Torreira into the Arsenal XI. It was baffling at the beginning of the season why the Spaniard did not play the £22million summer signing.

As with everything to do with the new manager, I backed his decision. There must have been reasons for it. But the team was desperately calling out for him to start. We lacked the balance in the opening games that he could bring us.

Two of Arsenal’s biggest problems in recent years is space in behind over exposed full backs, and the reliance on Granit Xhaka as the sole shield in front of the back 4.

At the beginning of this season, Hector Bellerin came in for some largely unfair criticism.

He was caught out a lot on the right hand side, balls in behind him leading to chances or caught out up field whilst the opponents broke. A lack of winger ahead of him or lack of central midfielder to cover him left him overworked, often in two-on-one situations.

At the time I call for Torreira to come in, that he would fill the gap the full-backs leave when bombing forward. He would cover both in front and behind them.

In the last 3 Premier League games, Bellerin’s performances have dramatically improved. He is getting quality into the box going forward, and does not look exposed at the back. This is the Torreira affect.

Granit Xhaka has also performed well recently.

He was never the deepest lying midfielder. His natural game is to press around the half way line. Be aggressive higher up the park. Win the ball to launch attacks. But to do this he needed someone behind him to clean up his mistakes. That if he is bypassed higher up the pitch, the opponents are not straight at the defence.

By playing Torreira alongside Xhaka, the Swiss midfielder has a partner in crime. Someone to share the defensive load. Someone who will allow him to be more aggressive up the field.

It is not a coincidence that Torreira’s first Premier League start led to Arsenal’s first clean sheet – a 2-0 win over Everton. That in the 3 Premier League games he has started, Arsenal have conceded just once.

It is not just defensively that Torreira has improved Arsenal.

With a nearly 90% pass completion rate in the Premier League, he has given the goal keeper and defence another options when playing out of the back.

His one and two touch passing is excellent. He has a picture in his head of what is happening and is able to release the ball quickly. He keeps it simple, playing to team mates in space.

We struggled at the beginning of the season playing out of defence. One problem was that in the midfield they only really had Xhaka looking for the ball. This led to the ball going back to the goal keeper too often which led everyone to drop deeper.

Now when the defenders, or Bernd Leno, get their head up, there are two options.

Xhaka and Torreira.

Double the options also means the player they are passing too has more time.

Previously an opponent would put 2 men on Xhaka. This would take him out of play of lead him to be under a lot of pressure when he received the ball.

With Torreira and the double pass option, the midfielders are receiving the ball in more space, under less pressure. It makes the passing safer, the situation more relaxed.

With Torreira and Xhaka in the middle, we look more balanced than we have done since the Fabregas / Flamini years.

A brilliant signing.

Keenos