Gary Neville recalls the first time he watched Arsenal's Lucas Torreira at the World Cup

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

As the midway point of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign approaches, talk has begun about who the signing of the season has been so far.

Liverpool's Alisson, who joined for £65m in the summer, is certainly up there having recorded 10 clean sheets in 16 league games.

Riyad Mahrez has also been fantastic for Manchester City, while Xherdan Shaqiri's £13m move to Liverpool now looks like an absolute steal.

However, it's hard to look past Lucas Torreira as the best summer signing after the start he's made to life at Arsenal.

It's no exaggeration that Torreira has single-handedly improved Arsenal with his energy and bite in midfield. He's the player the Gunners have needed for the past 10 years.

Arsenal only paid £26m for the 22-year-old Uruguayan and he's already become a fan favourite in north London.

Torreira has an eye for goal, too, as evidenced by his tidy finish against Tottenham and bicycle kick during the 1-0 win over Huddersfield.

One man who has been very surprised by Torreira's emergence is Gary Neville, who first watched the diminutive midfielder for Uruguay at the 2018 World Cup.

And it turns out Neville didn't actually think much of Torreira after watching him get dominated by the likes of Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi.


"I've been massively impressed," said Neville of Torreira on Monday Night Football. "I watched him at the World Cup.

"I did the France-Uruguay game live and I have to say, he was tenacious. First 30 minutes he got about the pitch, he was like a terrier.

"But then actually as France started to get on top, he started to get dominated, the likes of Pogba in midfield, Matuidi, [Antoine] Griezmann dropping in.

"I just remember thinking he (Torreira) couldn't get around the pitch. When Arsenal signed him, you just wondered how would it be?

Arsenal FC v Huddersfield Town - Premier League

"But his impact upon that team has been huge. I think it's the biggest impact actually.

"When you think about the character Arsenal have shown this season, keeping going, the tempo they set in games, I think someone like him leads his teammates where to go.

"If you look at him in the derby against Tottenham, if you look at him getting forward into the box, he's almost like a bundle of energy that everyone else in the team responds to."

Neville couldn't have been more wrong about Torreira, who he admits has made a huge impact with his character and tenacity.

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