Shkodran Mustafi has paid tribute to Lucas Torreira for his part in balancing the Arsenal midfield this season.
The £26.5m signing from Sampdoria in the summer has emerged as a key part of Unai Emery’s plans despite a slow start to his career in North London.
He put in a man of the match display against Liverpool on Saturday, and as the Gunners seek a win over Sporting tomorrow night that would see them top their Europa League group, the German was full of praise for the Uruguayan’s impact thus far.
“I’m very happy for him,” said Mustafi. “He played at one of my ex clubs, Sampdoria, so when he came here, it’s of course not easy, because it’s a different type of football in England.
“You have to give credit to him because he’s someone who works hard, who wants to work hard and who shows that on the pitch as well. Against Liverpool he recovered a lot of balls, and that makes it not only easier for the defenders, but for the whole team.
“As long as you have the ball, you have more opportunities to score. I think you have to give him credit. I’ve changed a lot of leagues, a lot of countries myself and I know it’s not easy to settle in.
“I think he’s done it brilliantly well.”
His partnership with Granit Xhaka also looks like it has real potential, and Mustafi believes that the players in midfield are capable of doing their defensive duties.
“I think the midfield players are defensively minded when they have to be,” he continued. “When we have the ball, the players try to create something up front.
“We try to work as a team, building up from the back. We play forward from the back. When we don’t have it, we press and defend from the front. When we have the ball, we are all offensive players.
“When we lose the ball, we are all defensive players.”
Arsenal haven’t kept a clean sheet since the 1-0 win in Lisbon last month, so if we could see a bit of that defensive solidity tomorrow night then we’d do our chances of winning the group some real good.