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The 22-year-old joined the Gunners after impressing at the World Cup with Uruguay and has hit the ground running as a key player in Unai Emery’s side’s 21-match unbeaten run.
“I’ve been massively impressed,” he told Sky Sports Monday Night Football. “When Arsenal signed him you just wondered how it would be? But his impact upon that team is huge. I think it’s the biggest impact actually if you think about the character Arsenal have shown this season in terms of the second-half performances, keeping going and the tempo they sometimes set in games.
“I think someone like him leaves his team-mates with nowhere to go. We’ve talked about Arsenal’s approach to games over the last two or three years and there was never that feeling that you felt as though it mattered at times. At times in big matches they always disappointed and you felt there wasn’t a leader out on the pitch for the players to look towards.
“If you look at him in that derby last week against Tottenham getting forward into the box he’s almost like this bundle of energy that everyone else in the team responds too, and this team needed that.
“With this Arsenal player over this three, four, five, six years that they’ve needed you’ve always got this picture of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira in your mind – a strong presence in midfield.
“He’s diminutive, not very big but then he’s tenacious. He gets into the box and he’s scored two goals in the last week. He’s good on the ball, he’s tidy on the ball and takes it and shows courage. He’s a massive upgrade on where they’ve been but most of all the impact he’s having on Arsenal’s mentality is huge.”