Uruguayan pocket rocket Lucas Torreira has joined Unai Emery’s Arsenal revolution in a £26 million deal designed to fill a gaping hole in the Gunners’ midfield. He arrives with a big reputation and glowing references from former coaches, who liken him to Sergio Busquets thanks to his tenacity and reading of the game. But the new boy could have competition for his place in the team – and from an unlikely source. Emery has been using Calum Chambers in the holding midfield role in training and pre-season contests and plans to keep him there.
“The manager spoke to me about the position,” said Chambers, who has typically been deployed at centre-back and full-back. “It’s a new one for me. I played there a little bit growing up. It’s a position I feel like I can grow to enjoy and out there today I felt good, I just need to train and practice in games in that position to get comfortable.
“It’s an important position. If you can get on the ball, turn and break their lines then it kills their press, so I think it’s an important position and anyone who’s playing in there needs to learn how to do that. Obviously you can’t do it all the time, you can’t take risks and when it’s not on you can bounce it backwards at an angle for someone else to play through the lines. But if you can get on it and you have time and it’s not a risk, turn and play forward and that’s the best way to get through a press.”
Chambers seems like an intelligent footballer and those quotes show that he is clearly taking the role seriously. It could be a perfect fit for him, as he is strong in the tackle, but also comfortable on the ball. A lack of pace has left him exposed on the flank, but he may thrive in a deep-lying central midfield role where he can use his intelligence to screen the defence and win back the ball. He is also a good enough passer to help launch attacks with carefully measured forward balls.
Yet Torreira looks a lot more explosive and dynamic than Chambers. He displayed great energy and athleticism for Uruguay at the World Cup, charging around the pitch and launching himself into tackles. He is only 5ft 6ins, and some critics argue that his small stature will be a disadvantage in the Premiership. However, he is exactly the same size as N’Golo Kante and Claude Makelele. The latter is widely regarded as the greatest holding midfielder of all time, while the former has now won the World Cup, two Premiership titles and all manner of Player of the Year awards.
It is hard to imagine Chambers keeping Torreira out of the starting 11 when the season begins. Yet it is great to have competition for places, with Mohamed Elneny also able to deputise in this role. There is also the possibility of them playing alongside one another in tricky away games, and in the final half hour of matches in which Arsenal hold a slender lead. Chambers’ versatility makes him a good squad player and it is pleasing to hear him speaking so eagerly about learning a new role.
Arsenal fans might be entitled to feel optimistic ahead of the upcoming Premiership campaign, as the Gunners’ attack already looks well stacked and they have brought in several reinforcements that should make them more solid defensively, Torreira included. They are clear underdogs to break back into the top four, and the odds on them doing so look attractive. If you are new to the wonderful world of wagering, a sports betting guide will help you learn more about how to enjoy a flutter, what strategies to adopt and what markets to choose. Arsenal might spring a few surprises in the league, the cups and in Europe next season after toughening up in midfield and at the back, and you could make a nice profit in backing them to exceed expectations.