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Where in the world is Lucas Torreira?

Right now, Madrid. Apparently.

Argentina v Uruguay: Group A - Copa America Brazil 2021 Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Arsenal had media day today, but one player conspicuously absent from the photos and interviews was Lucas Torreira. We know from his Instagram stories that the Uruguayan midfielder is training on his own in Madrid, presumably at the house he owns (rented?) while on loan last season at Atlético Madrid. But why isn’t he back at London Colney?

Uruguay were knocked out of the Copa America by Colombia on July 3rd. England lost the Euro final on July 11th. Bukayo Saka returned to training this week. What gives with Torreira?

Torreira has been linked for much of the summer with a move back to Italy, with Lazio as a likely destination. Fiorentina are also said to be interested. The problem is, as I’ve written again and again, money is tight anywhere that isn’t either in the upper echelons of the Premier League or backed by independently super-wealthy owners / nation-states.

Arsenal have demonstrated this summer that they will hold firm on their valuations of players and will not sell for pennies on the dollar (pence on the pound?), see e.g. Granit Xhaka not going to Roma and Héctor Bellerín not, as of yet, heading to Inter Milan. I expect them to take the same stance with Torreira. If the Italian clubs, or some unknown La Liga suitor, can’t meet their price, I’d wager the Uruguayan heads back out on loan this season.

Torreira is only under contract through the end of 2023. I don’t see him signing an extension to remain at the Emirates, even one just to “protect his value” for a future transfer. When Mikel Arteta took over in December 2019, Torreira was one of the players most negatively affected. He went from a regular under Unai Emery to hardly sniffing the pitch. And that change took a significant toll on Torreira.

He recently revealed that while on loan in Spain, he was working with a sports psychologist to help him rebound from / cope with the combined effects of his mother’s death from COVID in April (they were very close) and the blow to his footballing confidence delivered by his benching at Arsenal under Arteta. He also tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020 but was asymptomatic, isolated, and returned to training.

In the wake of his mother’s death, Torreira unequivocally stated that he didn’t want to play in Europe anymore, that he wanted to play for Boca Juniors in Uruguay to be closer to his family. At the time, Arsenal acknowledged his wishes but also made it clear that it would be difficult to grant them because of Boca Juniors’ financial situation. Based on statements to the media, Torreira seemed to understand.

So that’s where things stand — there really isn’t much news beyond Lucas Torreira not being at media day. We know why Gabriel Martinelli (Olympics) and Gabriel Magalhaes (injury, rehabbing in Mexico, set to return soon) weren’t. Torreira is the only senior player not at London Colney for whom we don’t have an explanation. I’m a bit surprised the regular Arsenal correspondents haven’t (to my knowledge) at least inquired as to his whereabouts and status, but it is what it is. Maybe we’ll get a bit more clarity soon.