Although born and raised in Uruguay, new Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira progressed through the ranks at Italian side Pescara after moving to Europe at the age of 17. He broke into the first team within a year, featuring for the club in the Serie B promotion playoffs, before Sampdoria swooped – although the Genoa club immediately loaned the still teenage Torreira back to Pescara for another season of important first-team development. It proved mutually beneficial, as the club secured promotion to Serie A through the playoffs.
Torreira subsequently spent two full seasons as Sampdoria’s first-choice defensive midfielder in Serie A. He may not be known primarily for his goalscoring attributes, but he still provided a handful of important strikes during the 2017/18 season – including a superbly struck effort in Sampdoria’s 3-2 victory over reigning champions Juventus.
Still only 22, Torreira has won eight caps for his native Uruguay, with five of those coming at the recent World Cup in Russia. A couple of impressive substitute appearances, coupled with a change in formation from head coach Oscar Tabarez, saw Torreira break into the starting XI at the base of a diamond in midfield. He played a full 90 minutes in the last-16 victory over Portugal and the quarter-final defeat to France, soon after which news of his £26.4m move to north London was announced. He will wear the Arsenal number 11 shirt previously worn by Marc Overmars, Sylvain Wiltord, Robin van Persie and, most recently, Mesut Ozil.