Lucas Torreira is delivering - and in a big way.
The Uruguayan promised much when he signed in the summer, his Serie A reputation preceded him as we all frantically searched for more information about this midfield destroyer we had purchased.
Top tackler and intercepter in Italy’s top league for two seasons straight, and his displays in the World Cup whetted the appetite further. His small stature belied the fierce desire and physicality that even the muscle-bound Cristiano Ronaldo would be unable to ignore.
His start to the season was an underwhelming one. Cameos would give us tantalising glimpses of his talent, ten or so minutes of this man, dwarfed by his cohorts, buzzing around with a seemingly endless supply of stamina.
We eventually had the pleasure of seeing an extended performance from Torreira, and his displays have been so impressive - so influential - that his presence in the side since has been mandatory.
The facts are simple, and underline his importance.
Minutes - 442
Goals scored - 9
Goals conceded - 10
Minutes - 548
Goals scored - 20
Goals conceded - 3
Stats can obviously be construed to fit most agendas, and we must remember that a part of the above stats include our first two games versus City and Chelsea - our only two losses to speak of so far. We were minus Torreira and with a new boss full of ideas that would take a while to implement - and this is still ongoing.
Still, it is also undeniable that we have been so much harder to beat with Torreira in our eleven. Compilation videos have been made and show the midfielder to be a true dynamo in the centre of the park, an irresistible force that opposing players find hard to get past. Not only are his defensive skills on point, but his passing has been impressive, converting moments of pressure into moments of opportunity.
We have a player we have been crying out for, for so long. Torreira is showing that N’Golo Kante isn’t the only player who can boss a midfield and break up play.
Early days of course, and a bold claim, but we can be forgiven for being excited.
Torreira is the real deal.