“I told my agent I didn’t want to play in Europe anymore.”
These are the words of Lucas torreira, who now looks like he can leave Arsenal for good this summer, three years after arriving at Emirates Stadium.
The midfielder seemed an exciting prospect for Arsenal when he signed a deal worth just under £ 26million from Sampdoria in 2019. Significant fees will suffice, especially since the Gunners had never signed seven more expensive players at the time.
But after dominating the Sampdoria midfielder as they finished in the middle of the table in the 2017/18 season, Arsenal fans had good reason to be excited for a player who had secured his first international convocation for Uruguay a few months earlier.
An FA Cup and 63 Premier League appearances later and Torreira found himself on loan at Atletico Madrid where he had to fill the void of the player who would be signed to replace him at Arsenal in Thomas partey.
Also on Arsenal’s books, the move to the Spanish capital gave Torreira the opportunity to impress Mikel arteta from afar, or at the very least put themselves in the window.
But with the end of the season, the midfielder did neither. 629 minutes.
That’s just 31% of the minutes he managed in his last season at Arsenal, a return that makes him ready to leave not only Atletico Madrid or Arsenal but European football as well.
“I’m dying to play Boca. If not now, in June or later. When my mother passed away, I told my agent that I didn’t want to play in Europe anymore and that I wanted to go to Boca. ” he recently said ESPN Argentina.
“I hope the teams take a one-year loan. Because I don’t know how many millions I’m worth, but for Boca it’s a lot of money.”
So what got us to this point? So much so that Torreira seems set to disappear completely from the top of European football?
It has been a difficult year for Torreira, who returned to Uruguay in March with permission from Atletico Madrid to be at her mother’s bedside as she died following a battle with the coronavirus, a disease that ‘he knew too much to have fought him himself in November.
This tragic loss will undoubtedly have an important role to play in his desire to settle in Argentina, where he will be much closer to his family.
It takes just three hours and 27 minutes to drive from his hometown of Fray Bentos to Bueno Aires, compared to over 14 hours flying from London to nearby Montevideo.
But it might not just be family issues at stake with Torreira having had a scorching spell on loan with Atletico Madrid this season, seeing little action as his teammates set to win La Liga for the 11th time in the history of the club.
However, Torreira’s disappointing fate didn’t really surprise many in the Spanish capital.
Sam Leveridge, Atletico season pass holder and writer, told us: “At the time, it made sense as a cheap plug to fill a gap, but no one was particularly excited about it. .
“Now what has happened since has only served to justify why there was no excitement about it. He only finished 90 minutes on three occasions, two of them against opposition. semi-professional in Copa del Rey and the other being his debut.
“He only started one league game in 2021 and was knocked out at half-time and that sort of sums up his time in Madrid. He didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but when he did get them he hasn’t done much to show he deserves more. “
So why did Atleti bother signing Torreira? Leveridge, which helps The history of La Ligaadded: “Atleti had been following Torreira for quite some time before getting his hands on him, dating back to his time in South America, so the fact that Simeone didn’t use him more is quite surprising.
“In a way he was quite unhappy. He was hired to play the midfielder role that Thomas Partey left vacant, but rather than come as a direct trade, Simeone changed the formation to a form 3-4-2-1 which does not involve a starting midfielder.
“In this formation, Koke is a guaranteed start, then Simeone tended to go with more attacking and open midfielders, like Saúl Niguez, Marcos Llorente or Thomas Lemar.
“Shortly after his arrival, Geoffrey Kondogbia also arrived from Valencia and also edged out Torreira in the pecking order, so with only one real midfield place to win he is rarely superior to fourth pick for that.”
Torreira has only played 18 minutes in Atletico Madrid’s last five games as they watched their dominant La Liga top lead slide to what will only be a point if Barcelona win on Monday night.
But even with that poor form, Torreira is unlikely to be drafted into Simeone’s starting XI in the remaining weeks of the season, and the Spanish giants are about as unlikely to make the move permanent this summer.
“With Atleti now only focused on La Liga, there won’t be as much, if any, need for rotation and there are a lot of options in his position,” Leveridge said. “He can feature in some of the easier games, but the failure of the Copa del Rey and the Champions League has really made that possibility much less likely.”
Addressing the midfielder’s future, he added: “There were some rumors that Atleti could end his loan early and allow him to move to Italy, but nothing came of it.
“I wouldn’t expect Torreira to stay given how little he has contributed this season, but someone high up at Atlético is clearly a big fan of having followed him for so long and playing. to have brought in.
“He certainly wouldn’t be the first signing the coach hasn’t seemed enthusiastic about in recent years.”
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But a permanent deal is not a fate that Simeone or Torreira want, not that it has been a totally miserable fate at Wanda Metropolitano for the midfielder.
Torreira gets along well with his team-mates, especially compatriots Luis Suarez and Jose Maria Gimenez, and he could still walk away with a winning medal in La Liga, the first league title of his career, if Atleti can change positions. shape and hang on top.
Although, for personal and football reasons, it has been a difficult year for Torreira and one that could ultimately drive him away from Arsenal for good.
And while this isn’t the best £ 26million Arsenal have spent in recent years, few can criticize Torreira for his move.
After all, he served the club for two years before being replaced by what was supposed to be an upgrade in Thomas Partey’s £ 45million summer signing.
Torreira’s future was snatched away from him at that point, and with two years remaining on his contract with the Gunners, he pleads for it to come back in his hands as he searches for a path back to America. from South.