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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Potential Departures to Italy

 

Lucas Torreira attempting to pick up Sokratis is exactly the level of  ambition I aspire for in 2020. : Gunners

Football, first and foremost, is a business with dealings in the transfer window playing a major role in the club’s finances. Arsenal is no different as the club swiftly swooped for Chelsea’s experienced maverick, Willian, on a free transfer before signing the highly-coveted center back, Gabriel Magalhaes, and securing a successive loan spell for midfield maestro, Dani Ceballos. 

There are some departures that have been expected with the Italian Serie A being the expected destination.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

With some additions, it only makes sense to expect some departures and the goodbye wagon started rolling with the club confirming the departure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AS Roma by mutual consent.

The decision to swap the Armenian attacking midfielder with Alexis Sanchez remains one of the most puzzling deals in football history, bearing in mind that Arsenal rejected a lucrative offer from Manchester City to sign the Chilean forward. Mkhitaryan joined the squad with a fat pay check and was quite inconsistent and underwhelming for a player of his calibre.

Things went sour and he joined AS Roma on loan where he managed to pick up some decent form to the point they offered Arsenal 10 million euros for his services and the Gunners rejected that as well – only to allow him leave for free a few months later. Good business indeed. The only positive I can think of from Mkhitaryan leaving, besides watching him of course, is the wages that have been freed up, which will be offered to those more deserving, like a certain Gabonese talismanic forward.

Lucas Torreira

Switching from permanent to potential departures, it seems like our love affair with the diminutive Uruguayan defensive midfielder, Lucas Torreira, is coming to an end. He came to the club and offered us something we had missed for a while – that dogged, swashbuckling, hard tackling, combative style we craved and we certainly loved it, as he missed only four Premier League games from 38 in his debut season.

His second season with us didn’t have the same zest as expected and he even lost his place in the team to a younger Matteo Guendouzi under Unai Emery and Dani Ceballos under Mikel Arteta. This led to him voicing his thoughts about not playing regularly and giving green lights to his potential suitors about his availability. It is believed that Italian Serie A outfit, Fiorentina, have declared their interest in signing Torreira in some sort of loan with mandatory option of buying kind of deal.

I am certain that Torreira will not pass on an opportunity to return to the country he started his football career, having played with Pescara and Sampdoria before joining Arsenal in 2018. In as much as I would love Torreira to stay, I understand his sentiments if he wants to leave for regular playing time, especially with the fact that he featured sparingly went football returned in June 2020. 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Finally, we visit the situation of Sokratis Papastathopoulos who has clearly fallen out of favor with the manager. Despite the fact that Calum Chambers has been injured for a lengthy period and there were fitness concerns with Rob Holding, Arteta still preferred to feature full backs like Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac as center back options with Sokratis watching from the bench.

The fact that he has also entered the final months of his contract with no hopes of renewing makes him a prime target to be axed this summer and his wishes might come through with Napoli declaring their interest in acquiring his services.

With their key asset in midfield, Allan, already departing to Everton and star defender, Kalilou Koulibaly, a long-term target for Manchester City, Napoli will want to bolster their defensive options and I am elated with the fact that the potential exists for Sokratis to be sold to them, even though it will certainly be for cheaps.

Sayonara.

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Lucas Torreira: Update on his Ankle Injury

Image result for torreira injury portsmouth

Lucas Torreira suffered a nasty ankle injury in the 16th minute of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park on a cold Monday night. The Arsenal youngsters took the plaudits for their good performance that was enough to seal a quarterfinal berth with head coach, Mikel Arteta, lauding their efforts but it was not a good night for Torreira, that had to be stretched off the pitch to receive medical attention for what was really a nasty challenge from Portsmouth defender, James Bolton.

Torreira was seen wearing an ankle brace and had to use clutches to navigate his way around to join the team leaving Portsmouth back to London. This leaves Arteta with only Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi as his only central midfield options, which is not ideal if you ask me. No other player in the side offers what Lucas Torreira gives this team and I touched on this sometime in January, when he suffered an injury in the draw with Crystal Palace. 

 Arsenal star Torreira was hobbling in a protective boot and will need scans on his injured ankle

Lucas Torreira wearing an ankle brace

Torreira has done well to allays some fears on whether he will be out for a while, when he spoke to the media about his injury,

“I wanted to tap it and grabbed my ankle on the outside. It twisted the ankle but I can move it”

Arteta, on the other hand, isn’t sure of the severity of the injury and will be waiting for the Arsenal medical team to provide a favorable update for him. What we know for sure is that Torreira will not be available for the crucial weekend fixture against West Ham and the midweek clash against Manchester City might come too soon for him. 

In his absence, Ceballos will get an extended run in the side and we will be hoping he can forge a good understanding with Xhaka in the middle of the park. For a player that was close to leaving the club in January, Ceballos is playing on a different level and looks committed to the cause as Arteta hopes to seek qualification to Europe from the Premier League following that disaster that happened last week Thursday against Olympiakos.

Arsenal would be hoping to have Torreira available for selection as soon as possible because he remains a vital cog in the Arteta midfield machine.

Sayonara.

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Torreira: Can Arsenal Cope in His Absence?

Torreira injury

Torreira injured at Selhurst Park

 

Lucas Torreira has become an influential figure at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in December 2019. He joined the club last season and had an instant impact with his combative style of play that won the fans over but as the season progressed, he lost some form before serving his country at the 2018 World Cup.

The start of the new campaign proved difficult for Torreira with the Uruguayan losing his place in the starting lineup to Matteo Guendouzi and in the games he managed to play under Unai Emery, he played out of position, much to his despair, that sparked rumors of a potential exit from the club with Serie A as the likely destination.

In the first 10 games of the season, Torreira started only two games and did not complete 90 minutes. Torreira is an ever present at the team since then, but he has become a cause for concern after his injury in the draw against Crystal Palace. The manager, Mikel Arteta, provided an update on his injury after the match,

“Matteo was really good when he came on as well, but Lucas has been in good form. He has given us a lot but I had to get him off because he wasn’t feeling good.

“It’s a muscle injury. We’ll have to assess it with the doctors tomorrow. We will know more the day after.”

Since Arteta took over, Torreira’s improvement is evident and increased his value to Arsenal. I pulled out some of his stats (via WhoScored.com) to juxtapose between his first four games for Arteta and the rest of his time under Emery,

Bournemouth Chelsea Man Utd Crystal Palace 2019/20 Average 2018/19 Average
Touches 93 67 52 64 713 1645
Tackles Made 2 0 2 1 1.4 1.9
Interceptions 2 3 2 2 1.3 1.2
Fouls Committed 2 1 2 0 0.8 1.1
Clearances 0 1 4 1 0.9 0.9
Blocked Shots 1 0 0 1 0.3 0.2
Total Passes 77 53 40 52 654 1590
Long Balls 3 4 3 4 28 60
Key Passes 1 0 0 0 0.5 0.7
Pass Completion % 88.3 88.7 87.5 88.5 88.7 87.4
Bookings (Yellow / Red) (1 / 0) (1 / 0) (0 / 0) (0 / 0) (3 / 0) (7 / 1)

One standout attribute from Torreira’s stats since the introduction of Arteta to the side is his interceptions, as the Uruguayan performed admirably in his primary duties as a defensive midfielder. His absence was felt in the second half of the Crystal Palace game, as Guendouzi could not replicate what he offered on the field when he played alongside Granit Xhaka, and it is fair to say that the midfield was lost.

Torriera’s tackling, clearances and blocked shots increased under Arteta, with the manager allowing him to express himself freely in his favored position.

When Guendouzi and Xhaka play together, the Swiss plays a deeper role, allowing the young Frenchman to roam forward in a box-to-box like role.

However, Xhaka lacks the agility to function as a defensive midfielder, with his key strength, his passing range, that does not come into play when the Gunners are not with the ball. This clearly means that Guendouzi or / and Xhaka need a Torreira beside them to do the dirty work while they continue their roles as cultured midfielders.

The game against Sheffield United comes up this weekend and Arteta waits for updated information regarding Torreira’s fitness because with the way the Gunners play, the Uruguayan’s role is key and at this point, I don’t think we have an able replacement, unless something is done in the January transfer window, which I am pessimistic about.

Sayonara

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