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Wait, why the heck would Fiorentina sign Torreira?

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A lot of outlets are reporting the out-of-favor Arsenal midfielder could be headed to Tuscany, but he seems a bit redundant in the Viola engine room.

Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Coming off the strangest season in memory, Fiorentina are a team in flux for next year. Mainstays Federio Chiesa, Nikola Milenković, and Germán Pezzella are among a host of Viola players strongly linked to moves away, throwing the makeup of the defense and the attack into question. On the plus side, the impending arrival of Sofyan Amrabat from Hellas Verona to pair with Gaetano Castrovilli and one of Erick Pulgar or Alfred Duncan means that the midfield at least will be well stocked. And, if you believe the Gazzetta dello Sport (as reported by Football Italia), Lucas Torreira may soon join them.

The Arsenal man doesn’t seem to be in Mikel Arteta’s plans, having started just 2 of the Gunners’ games after the restart, and the word is that he wants a loan away and is eying a return to Italy. AC Milan are one potential landing spot but Fiorentina is the other, although it sounds like Atletico Madrid are also interested. It’s fun to see the Viola up against a team like Atleti for players, but this one’s a bit hard to parse.

Torreira is, at his best, a deep-lying, incisive midfielder with the mobility to sweep up in front of the defense. He’s a very good ball-winner and has superb positional discipline. That’s how he’s racked up 23 caps for Uruguay at the age of 24 really demonstrates his quality, considering how slow Óscar Tabárez usually is when bringing younger players into the setup. The criticisms against him—that he’s not a goal threat, gets constantly beaten in the air, and loses focus at times—are valid but don’t outweigh his positive qualities.

The problem is that, in Amrabat and Pulgar, Fiorentina have two players whose skill sets overlap entirely with Torreira’s. The Morrocan, as the club’s most expensive winter signing ever, would likely be undroppable even if he hadn’t just turned in perhaps the most impressive campaign of any midfielder in Serie A. Pulgar isn’t as progressive with his passing as Torreira but is a fantastic ball-winner in a low block (the Uruguayan excels when pressing forward rather than sitting back) and so might be a better fit for Giuseppe Iachini’s tactics.

While a midfield three of Torreira, Amrabat, and Castrovilli or Pulgar would be outrageously good, it would also be a huge problem, as the Viola are in desperate need of goals from midfield to bolster a group of forwards that doesn’t score as much as it should. When you factor in Torreira’s wage (more than €4.2 million) and you can see an obvious issue in terms of roster construction.

Even if Fiorentina sells Pulgar, Torreira may be too expensive. Arsenal paid €29 million or so for him in 2018 and won’t want to lose money on a 24-year-old who’ll only get better. They’ll likely send him on a loan somewhere, but the clause to buy him could be €25 million or so, which would give them a slight profit due to the amortization of the payments but not as much as they’d want to earn.

If Pulgar leaves and if Torreira arrives and and if it’s on terms that make a multi-year deal possible and if he meshes with #BeppeBall, this would be a really exciting move. That’s a lot of ifs, though, so it winds up being more of a headscratcher than anything else.