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Are Arsenal actually close to signing Lucas Torreira?

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Although there’s a lot of smoke about Lucas Torreira, there might not be much fire

UC Sampdoria v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

With growing intensity, Arsenal are reportedly very close to signing Lucas Torreira. Almost hourly, the indomitable @MrArsenicTM tweets another report linking Arsenal with the transfer. Most recently, the account tweeted a link to Gianluca Di Marzio appearing on Italy’s Sky Sports:

So far the story has gone like this: Napoli wouldn’t pay up for Torreira, Arsenal came in, but not wanting to pay the full 25 million euro release clause upfront are offering more with structured payments, perhaps giving the club a little more financial flexibility this summer (FYI, this is different to amortization. Amortization is spreading the cost of the transfer over the length of the contract, and generally includes wages. This is structuring payments). The hold up is apparently agent fees; meanwhile, Sampdoria has sourced a replacement, Napoli are going to sign Lobotka, once linked with Arsenal, from Celta Vigo to replace the Manchester City bound Jorginho. Everyone, it seems, wins.

This is not about Lucas Torreira, who looks a good player, and one many will obviously now keep an eye on during the World Cup. Nor is it about whether Arsenal actually end up signing Torreira, although I think it might still be a possibility he ends up at Napoli. Rather, this is about how close Arsenal actually are to signing Torreira. Italian transfer stories can be notoriously inaccurate—last month, Di Marzio reported that Arsenal were interested in Dennis Praet of Sampdoria, as an example. This speaks to how Arsenal can be used during the summer: a selling team, looking to drive up interest, or force another team to pay up, leaks interest from another, English club, all of whom obviously have the resources for the transfer.

The best indicator of Arsenal’s transfer business generally comes eventually from British outlets, who can corroborate reports from elsewhere. David Hytner, Jeremy Wilson and obviously David Ornstein are the most solid sources for Arsenal news, but generally stories in the Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, BBC and The Times carry the most credence. Sky Sports, The Daily Mirror and Daily Mail occasionally have good reporting. The Sun is trash and you should never click on it. There has only been one independent report in the British press about Arsenal (i.e. one not relying on “reports from Italy”), in the Daily Mail. It comes from Simon Jones—usually Sami Mokbel is Arsenal’s man (i.e. the one with the best contacts at the club) at the Mail.

What does this mean? It could end up meaning nothing; there could be a flurry of reports, all at the same time (that’s how you know it’s a club briefing) reporting that Arsenal are on the verge of signing Torreira. But until that happens, I remain skeptical that the smoke around Torreira is anything more than a lot of hot air.