Lucas Torreira spoke to the Uruguayan media this week about how his move to Arsenal is going so far, telling stories of his life in a new city.
Speaking to El Observador, Torreira began by recalling the actual transfer process, and he revealed which Arsenal player first came to greet him.
“Once the World Cup was over I travelled rapidly to London to sign a contract and perform all of the paperwork,” Torreira began. “When I got to the club, I greeted all the technical staff and the people who work there. I was approached by Emi Martinez, an Argentine goalkeeper, and we chatted for a bit.”
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It makes sense that Martinez would be one of the first players to say hello, considering they speak the same language. Torreira admits that the locker room is full of different dialects though, so he has to use a mix of languages to communicate.
“In our locker room, there are players of many nationalities, many languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish. They speak everything a little bit. With some, I communicate in English and others in Italian. Little by little I’m dropping some words in English; this is good.
“Around me, I have the French Lacazette, the Welsh Aaron Ramsey and the Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan. It is something fantastic.”
Thankfully, there’s a pretty strong Spanish-speaking contingent at Arsenal right now, including head coach Unai Emery and his assistants. That helps him out on and off the training pitch, particularly as it took him a while to get the confidence to travel in a right-hand drive car (driving on the left).
“The first few months I had no car and always travelled with a colleague. As I live in the same building as the Spanish Nacho Monreal, he took me to all the training sessions. I sent him a message asking ‘Nacho, what time are we leaving tomorrow?’ every day. In the beginning, it was difficult to see me in a right-side drive.
“Without a doubt (it helps having Spanish coaches), because once they explain to others in English, afterwards they explain to me in Spanish and that to me makes it easier to understand their indications. It would be a little more difficult otherwise.”
One thing Torreira wasn’t prepared for when he joined was the cost of a hairdresser. He didn’t even have English money to pay one at first.
“In my first few weeks in London, while living in the hotel, I realized that I had very long hair, then through a teammate, I called a hairdresser,” Torreira explained. “The man came to the hotel and cut my hair. I looked very cute.
“The issue is that when I went to pay, I didn’t have pounds, just euros and dollars. I didn’t know how to pay and I asked him: ‘Can I pay in dollars?’. Yes, of course, he said. I thought I’d pay about $30 more or less, for a haircut… When he said $100, he wanted to kill him. I never called him again.”
That’s not the only thing the midfielder has had to adjust to though, as life is very different for him in London.
“Little by little, together with my girlfriend and a friend who has just arrived, we’re adapting,” he said. “I spent almost five years in Italy. What surprised me most in London are the stadiums, the facilities of the club, the traffic.
“The weather is a great topic. Many times you don’t see the sun for the whole day. But as the days go by we’re getting used to it.”
Living the dream
One thing it’s impossible to misunderstand from the interview is that Torreira is grateful to have this opportunity. The fans singing his name, the Emirates Stadium, playing Premier League football, he’s living the dream.
“When we got to the stadium (for the first time) I spent about 10 minutes outside sitting on a bench,” Torreira recalled. “I was like a child looking at everything, amazed and happy. I thought about my family, my friends, the people that saw me grow. Everything that I dreamed of since I was little, I’m living it now and I enjoy it a lot.
“I was fortunate to play in two important teams in Italy, Pescara and Sampdoria, where their fans are very passionate. Here the fans are fantastic, they even dedicated me a song. When I’m on the pitch and I hear them sing, it fills me with pride.”