Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit are two players we won’t forget in a hurry.
Yes, both players had great ability – they wouldn’t have played almost every game together in the 1997-98 double winning side if they didn’t. However, what set them apart was their power, tenacity, leadership and commitment to their role within a system.
Ever since Vieira left in 2005, we have failed to replace him and one wonders whether that was down to the regime. Granit Xhaka arrived with the reputation of being somebody that rarely shies away from a challenge, yet is too often bullied off the ball when put under pressure; that needs to change.
As well as the appointment of a more demanding manager in Unai Emery, a new partner for Xhaka might help: reports in the Daily Mail claim that Arsenal are closing in on a deal for Uruguay youngster, Lucas Torreira.
Still only 22, he has a lot to do to be compared to Vieira, but if his performances for Sampdoria in the last two seasons are to be considered, we could have a bargain on our hands. The success of N’Golo Kante in the Premier League has shown that being imposing is not the only way a defensive midfielder can be effective.
Standing at only 5ft 5in, Torreira is known for his combative displays. His signing is a cheaper option when it comes to getting top-class anchormen on the continent.
Last season, he averaged 2.8 tackles, 2 interceptions and had a ball distribution rate of 87% in 36 Serie A games, which highlights the wide array of qualities he will offer.
Torreira will add solidity and steel an Arsenal midfield, but it’s vital that he can also pick a pass: in around 26 of our 38 Premier League games we will face defensive opposition and therefore creativity from deep is essential.
We may get a glimpse of Torreira’s talents on Friday, when the Uruguay international could face Egypt in his side’s World Cup opener. While he has potential to improve, there are also signs that he can also make his mark on this team straight away.