Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has lavished praise on Gunners’ summer signing Lucas Torreira, revealing his opinion that the South American’s developing partnership with Granit Xhaka has been the key to the upturn in form being enjoyed by the North Londoners.
22-year-old defensive midfielder Torreira was a man in-demand this summer, following a stellar campaign in Italy last season with Sampdoria.
The Uruguayan international then only added to his list of admirers with his showings at the World Cup in Russia, playing a key role in his country’s run to the quarter-finals of the tournament, where Oscar Tabarez’s men were eliminated by eventual champions France.
Arsenal vs Napoli
In the end, the two clubs to have expressed the most serious interest in Torreira’s signature were Arsenal and Napoli.
New Gunners’ boss Unai Emery was widely-reported to have identified his side’s midfield as an area in dire need of reinforcements.
Napoli, meanwhile, were on the lookout for midfield additions of their own, following Jorginho’s departure for Chelsea.
In the end, though, the willingness of the former to splash out 5 million Euro more than Torreira’s 25 million Euro release clause saw Arsenal clinch the South American’s signature back in July.
Torreira’s midfield masterclass
And, following a slow start to life in North London, Torreira has since gone on to establish himself as an absolutely crucial cog in the Gunners’ midfield.
The tenacity and discipline displayed by the former Sampdoria man have added a balance that has so long been lacking from Arsenal’s ranks in the middle of the park, with his presence having allowed the likes of Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette free reign to work their magic further forward.
‘Changed a lot’
In addition, along with freeing up the Gunners’ rake of attacking stars, Torreira’s arrival has also breathed new life into the career of Granit Xhaka.
Swiss international Xhaka has long-drawn the ire of Arsenal’s supporters, with the Gunners’ faithful having been left disappointed time and time again by the lack of defensive cover provided by the former Borussia Monchengladbach man over the last couple of seasons.
In fairness to Xhaka, he was never a true holding midfielder, but more of a deep-lying playmaker with a nasty streak.
And Ray Parlour, a former Gunners’ midfielder himself, believes that Torreira’s introduction to Arsenal’s midfield has ‘made the difference’ both in terms of freeing up Xhaka, and making the North Londoners ‘a lot more hard to break down’:
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Star, Parlour revealed:
‘Torreira’s changed a lot.’
‘I think in midfield, Xhaka wasn’t really a proper holding midfielder.’
‘I’ve seen the difference now. They’re a lot more hard to break down now than they was at the start of the season. (And that’s) because Torreira wasn’t playing.’
‘You won’t believe how important those players are, the two in midfield.’
‘A lot more balanced’
Parlour even went as far as to compare the impact made by Torreira to that of Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva:
‘Gilberto Silva, he done a wonderful job in that unbeaten season.’
‘So it looks a lot more balanced now with Torreira playing.’
Arsenal’s road ahead
Next up for Unai Emery’s Arsenal following the international break is a Premier League trip to Bournemouth.