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EXCLUSIVE! | Lucas Torreira, from someone who knows him very well.

Arsenal have been linked very recently to a plethora of players since Unai Emery became the new man in charge and even better still they’ve actually signed a few of them in quick and timely fashion. From Leverkusen Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, to Juventus fullback Stephan Lichtsteiner along with the inevitable announcement of Sokratis from Borussia Dortmund next week, this window is shaping up to be a hot one.

Another of these heavily connected players is the young Uruguayan Defensive-Midfielder from Sampdoria, Lucas Torreira. It seems to be the world’s worst kept secret that the club are about to announce the signing of this youngster who ran the midfield today against Russia in Uruguay’s final group game, having been revealed by practically everybody but Arsenal.

Those who’ve already broke the news include reliable Italian Journalists, ANSA (the Italian version of Reuter’s), both Sampdoria President and Sporting Director, the player’s own sister as well as family friend Felipe Sanchez, who I sat and spoke with last week. Before we got onto the general topic of Lucas however I asked him that all important question, Torreira to Arsenal, is it really happening? “It is a fact; there is an agreement with Sampdoria for €30m, but this will be official when the World Cup finishes.” Felipe told me.

“Really Lucas does not want to think about anything other than what is happening with the Uruguayan National-Team. Once he’s finished in the competition will be fully in this great pass to Arsenal.” I pushed a little further and asked Felipe to clarify something a Journalist had previously mentioned about Lucas himself already having signed a contract with Arsenal.

“The contract has been confirmed by the President of Sampdoria, Massimo Ferrero and he has already endorsed it [signed on behalf of the selling club].” Felipe explained, “But [for] now Lucas’ part is missing until the World Cup ends.” Felipe confirmed that it’s merely a formality now but a “Pre-Agreement” has been signed by parties from both clubs and as Massimo Ferrero and now Carlo Osti have both confirmed, Lucas Torreira has been sold by Sampdoria “For €30m.” which is €5m over Lucas’ Release-Clause and which Arsenal were the only ones happy to agree in doing so.

We then discussed how it was Felipe came to know Torreira, “Well I’ve known Lucas since he was born” Felipe told me, “I’m a friend of the [Torreira] family. I’m a keyboard player and we had a band with Lucas’ dad, Ricardo and we were practically at his house all day, every day.” Felipe explained that the band he and Ricardo Torreira were in together played exotic music similar to the Salsa vibes of Oscar D'Leon or Rubén Blades and Willie Colón.

Unfortunately for Felipe, due to an illness twelve years ago, he had to stop playing the keyboard and subsequently finish with the band. “I had contracted meningitis and Myelitis; I was in a coma for 27 days, a further seven months having intense therapy, a year and a half in hospital and a year and a half in wheelchairs.”

Although he battled strong and beat the paralysis, Felipe had to give up playing in the band, he now owns and runs a Karaoke business and has remained extremely close to Lucas and the Torreira family. “I still speak with Lucas every day, [and] spoke with him before and after the [Saudi Arabia] game, I also spoke to Ricardo via WhatsApp audio.”

Felipe sent me an audio file from Ricardo Torreira via WhatsApp, from Russia. It was a simple message, greeting Felipe and Lucas’s fans around the world from Lucas, Ricardo and Viviana (Lucas’ mother) from Moscow. It explained how the family are having a great time traveling and enjoying the experience, how little by little Lucas’ National-Team minutes were growing and thanked Felipe for his overwhelming support to Lucas throughout the years. Listening to his father’s voice it was obvious that this was something Lucas Torreira had dreamed off his entire life and his name and the fame were definitely growing.

But as Felipe elucidated to me, this wasn’t always the case. Lucas had grown up in unpretentious surroundings in the city of Fray Bentos, Uruguay. He had lived with his mother Viviana (a housewife) and father Ricardo (currently an important Football reporter on Uruguayan radio commentating at the World Cup, but at the time, a Municipal worker). He also shared the house with his five siblings (2 sisters named Ana and Estefany and 3 brothers; Claudio, Brayan and Ricardo Junior) and Lucas would always play Football in the streets or the cage with his three brothers who continue to play Football locally in Fray Bentos to this day. It’s safe to say Football runs in the family and in his blood.

After playing in the youth sides of his boyhood club 18 de Julio and Montevideo Wanderers, Lucas was courted by Pescara, in the Italian region of Abruzzo for their own youth team, at the age of seventeen. Felipe expressed to me how this was for Lucas and his family, “He travelled alone and it was a difficult time as they sent him to Italy and they had no money. They are a very humble family [and] those times were very hard [for Lucas] because both friends and family were far away, but they kept in contact daily by phone.”

Felipe also told me that “at first it was very hard, but his mentality from a very young age was already that of a professional, [he was] always thinking ahead and focusing on becoming an important player.” In other words Lucas’ mind was always on bettering himself and his focus was constantly on Football and it was this that kept him grounded and able to continue without those closest to him around. “Little by little”, Felipe added, “the more he progressed, he was able to fund his family to come and visit him in Italy.”

It has never been about the money for Lucas, he’s absolutely Football mad but this contract with Arsenal will be life changing for him and his family. Going from “little money” at Pescara to a little more at Sampdoria, the Arsenal purse is going to be a massive deal but the change itself will be a very, very exciting new step in the young man’s journey. It’ll probably be number three on his list behind the two previous, huge advancements in Lucas Torreira’s career, both being for his country as Felipe described. “There has recently been two very important pieces of news for Lucas, because from small he has dreamed of the Uruguayan National-Team. The first was when he was called up in the Pre-Selection for the China Cup (back in March) and the other was when he received the news that he had made the 23-man list for the World Cup in Russia. His family were already at the Celestial Complex (The Uruguayan National-Team’s training camp in Uruguay) as they were preparing for the names to be called and when Lucas’ name was read out, he went in search of his family and it was all very emotional when he found them!”

The move to Arsenal for Lucas, Felipe thinks “will be difficult but exciting for him to discover new horizons, [but] the most difficult thing will be the language” he said in jest. Although it is true that, this move must have come thick and fast for Lucas as he has currently taken up no studying in the English language and has no translator either. “He hasn’t even thought about it yet. When the World Cup comes to an end, he will have to face that reality.” But as previously mentioned, Lucas is a very mature head on young shoulders and focuses on his Football “with great aplomb.”

Felipe believes that in Torreira, Arsenal will absolutely be getting “a player with a lot of technique [who] is a scrappy fighter in the middle of the field, with the most amount of recoveries in Serie A. [He has] incredible precision to play the ball and plays for the team always. He is very good at Free-Kicks and shots outside the area and very, very fast.” Felipe believes that Arsenal have got (in his opinion) “A class player, of only 22 years and therefore much room to grow.”

Needless to say Arsenal fans should be very, very excited about this move. Lucas Torreira from what I can grasp is a player in the mould of Santi Cazorla but I also believe he has the traits of Gilberto Silva as well and judging by what Felipe Sanchez has told me, this will definitely be a rags to riches story which I believe can only get better for all involved; Lucas Torreira, Arsenal Football Club and fans worldwide.

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