Arsenal line up Leverkusen star to follow up £26m midfield signing

Oli Fisher

Arsenal are believed to be set to win the race to sign Sampdoria’s star midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport said an agreement was reached on Tuesday and Uruguay international Torreira would sign a five-year contract, with the deal worth £26.3million.

The 22-year-old is with his national team, preparing for the World Cup in Russia. Uruguay play Egypt on Friday in their opening game.

Torreira has spent two seasons at Sampdoria, who he joined from fellow Italian side Pescara.

Arsenal and Sampdoria have yet to make any official comment over the reports, but Press Association Sport understands suggestions of a deal having been completed are premature.

New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery is, though, expected to continue to strengthen the squad over the summer.

Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has already arrived on a free from Juventus, while confirmation of a move for centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund is expected at the start of July.

Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno is another reported target.

England Under-21 international Ainsley Maitland-Niles has, meanwhile, been handed a new long-term contract.

The promising 20-year-old is a product of the club’s academy and enjoyed a breakthrough season during the last campaign – making a total of 28 first-team appearances.

Maitland-Niles’ performances had caught the eye of Emery ahead of his appointment, and the attack-minded midfielder is keen to make a big impression in the Spaniard’s first campaign.

“It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down. I’m very pleased,” he told Arsenal Player.

We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me.”

The Gunners continue to reshape the backroom staff following the departure of long-serving manager Arsene Wenger.

Freddie Ljungberg has been appointed as head coach of the Arsenal Under-23 side.

The ex-Gunners midfielder played more than 200 matches for the club and won the Premier League twice in a nine-year spell, part of the Invincibles team which went unbeaten for the 2004 league campaign.

Following a short stint as assistant manager at Wolfsburg, the former Sweden international will formally return to Arsenal next month.

“I’m delighted to be returning to the club,” Ljungberg, 41, said. “Arsenal has always been a special place for me and I’m really excited at this opportunity to work with our under-23 team.

“I look forward to working with the talented young players we have at the club.

“I know many of them well and will work hard to help them continue developing and become the best players and people they can be.”


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