Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira has been backed to have the same impact as N'Golo Kante has had at Chelsea.
The Uruguayan was signed from Sampdoria in the summer, and went on to impress at the World Cup before joining Arsenal, where he has made appearances in each of the club’s first four Premier League games, though all from the bench so far.
Arguably, Arsenal have yet to find an adequate replacement at defensive midfield since Gilberto left the club in 2008, but Torreira is the signing meant to change that record, and he has his predecessor’s backing.
“I watched him in the World Cup,” Gilberto told Goal.
“He did a very good job. If you see the way he plays, he plays the game very simply, he makes things easy for himself on the field.
“He gives protection to the back four and support to the guys up front, he tries to find the best spot to be in. The protective instinct is very natural for him.
“Before he arrived none of the other players were the kind who would sit in front of the back four. It’s a hard job, not everyone wants this job.”
Gilberto was asked about Kante, who won two straight Premier League titles in 2015-16 and 2016-17, with Leicester City and then Chelsea respectively. The Frenchman went on to form part of the fulcrum of France’s World Cup-winning side this summer, and is now generally recognised as one of the top practitioners of his role in the game.
“Of course, you have Kante at Chelsea,” Gilberto said.
“He’s a small player. It’s about how smart they are to play in this position, to find the best ball to give, play nice and simple.”
The Brazilian believes Torreira can have the same impact as the more-feted Kante.
“I hope so. The Premier League is not easy. You have to work hard to be considered a top player and progress game to game, season to season.
“But he’s got the potential. We saw that at the World Cup, where he did a great job for Uruguay.
“Not only this position but football has changed a lot. The way it’s played, the passion of the Premier League, it’s totally different from 10-15 years ago but you have to try and adapt.”