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Arsenal centre-back Mustafi has hailed Lucas Torreira’s ‘brilliant’ transition to life in English football as the Uruguayan continues to prove himself to be an astute acquisition by the Gunners.
Torreira joined Arsenal for £27million from Sampdoria, one of Mustafi’s former clubs, this season and the energetic, psychical approach that belies his diminutive 5ft 5in frame has already earned him fan favourite status among supporters.
It has not gone unnoticed elsewhere and Torreira was handed the man of the match award following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, a match where his energy was crucial in overcoming the visitors’ numerical advantage in the centre of the field.
Torreira has significantly eased the burden on an at-times brittle Arsenal defence. In the six Premier League matches he has started the Gunners have only once conceded more than a single goal compared with in three of the five matches where he has come on as a substitute.
Mustafi certainly believes Torreira is making life easier for him. He told Standard Sport: “I’m very happy for him. He played as well at one on my ex-clubs, Sampdoria.
“When he played here of course it’s not easy because it’s a different type of football in England and Italy.
“But you have to give credit to him, he’s someone who works hard, who wants to work hard and shows that on the pitch. Obviously against Liverpool he showed that on the pitch and recovered a lot of balls.
“That makes it not only easy for me and the defender but for the whole team. As long as you have the ball you have more opportunities to score the goal. You have to give him credit,
“I know myself I changed a lot of leagues and countries. To settle in is not easily. He’s done it brilliantly well.”
Torreira is not the only midfielder who appears to be flourishing under Unai Emery. Granit Xhaka was at times a headache in defensive areas for Arsene Wenger but under his successor is a far more consistent presence in the engine room, evidenced by the game-high five tackles he won against Liverpool.
However Mustafi is convinced that there has been no major overhaul of the approach to the Arsenal midfield.
“I think the midfield players are defensively-minded when they have to be,” Mustafi added.” When we have the ball those players are trying to create things upfront. We don’t have defensive players and offensive players, we try to work as a team, we try to build up from the back.
“When we haven’t got the ball we’re pressing from the front and defending from the front. When we have the ball we are all offensive players, when we don’t we are all defensive players.”