If you ask most people in North London what ‘Fray Bentos’ means to them, I’d imagine the most common reply you’d get would be ‘pies’, and with good reason, it’s an iconic British brand.
But it’s a little known fact that the food manufacturer is named after a Uruguayan port city where the products were originally processed and packaged until the 1960s. It is also the birth place of a certain Lucas Torreira, who could also be a household name in England soon.
Small in height but big in heart, character and potential, the former Sampdoria midfielder is ideal for Arsenal and exactly the type of player their midfield has been crying out for.
A bundle of energy, Torreira is hard-working, cool under pressure, great in the tackle, neat in his distribution - both short and long - and keen on long shots and free-kicks. A player who left Uruguay for Pescara while still a teenager, and won promotion from Serie B with The Delfini in 2016 having been loaned back there from Samp.
The experience was a very positive one under Massimo Oddo, and it prepared Torriera well for life in Serie A, but he’s flourished even further under Marco Giampaolo since returning to Marassi ahead of the 2016-17 season. A Coach with a playing style ideally suited to exploiting his talents and it’s showed. Torreira has started 71 of his club’s 76 league games since and fully earned what’s a big opportunity to be part of Unai Emery’s Arsenal.
The former Sevilla Coach is famed for his almost obsessive analysis (he does all his own video editing) and will have studied Torreira inside out. He had a passing accuracy of 87.2% in Serie A last season – he averaged 2.8 tackles per game, which was only exceeded by five players – a record of two interceptions on average per game put him inside the league’s top 20 for that.
Stats are far from conclusive though, I’d rather use my own eyes, and I can honestly say that the vast majority of times I’ve watched Torreira I’ve been impressed and convinced he can play at the very highest level.
Sampdoria clearly felt that too when they first signed him from Pescara and Arsenal fans wanting further reassurance that Torreira can be a success in the Premier League need only look at the Blucerchiati’s fantastic track-record in identifying, signing and developing talent.
A list of former players who’ve been successful for them and then sold on for vast profits makes impressive reading, even if we just consider the last few years.
Pedro Obiang (West Ham), Joaquin Correa (Sevilla), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Eder (Inter), Roberto Soriano (Villarreal), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Milan Skriniar (Inter), Luis Muriel (Sevilla) and Patrik Schick (Roma). Go a little further back and there’s Mauro Icardi (Inter) to point out too… just maybe don’t mention Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal fans…
While Mustafi set The Gunners back a reported €41m in 2016, Torreira’s arrival for €30m represents, in this market, great value for money. And Samp, having only paid €1.5m for him in 2015, have done it again!