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Luca de la Torre’s LaLiga move to Celta Vigo is a bet on himself

Luca de la Torre is used to betting on himself and coming out on top in the end. At the age of 15 he left San Diego to join the academy at English club Fulham. He rose through the ranks and eventually broke through to the first-team, but when playing time proved limited, De la Torre joined modest Dutch club Heracles Almelo in 2020.

It could have been seen as a step backwards, but he got the consistent playing time he was looking for and became a regular there, allowing him to squeeze his way into United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter’s billing. De La Torre has seen its shares skyrocket in 2022; Now he’s making his biggest bet yet, moving to Spain and joining La Liga club Celta Vigo on Friday for a cheap transfer fee of just over $2 million.

The 24-year-old midfielder moves to what is arguably the highest league in the world, which will test him like never before. But it’s a move he welcomes.

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“It’s the kind of promotion I wanted, in a really good league and team that fits my style of play,” he told ESPN over the phone from Vigo. “They like to keep the ball. They like to play really attacking football. Also, the coach demands a lot of work ethic off the ball, which I think describes me as a player, so it’s a really good place to be.” “

Perhaps the biggest risk facing De la Torre is how the move will affect his United States national team prospects. Had he stayed at Heracles he would almost certainly have guaranteed playing time, albeit in the Dutch second tier following the club’s relegation. This scenario probably wouldn’t improve his chances of making the US squad for Qatar. But now he’ll be looking to break into a Celta side that finished 11th last year and the World Cup is just four months away.

In a translated report by Spanish outlet Marca, De la Torre was described as a player “to increase the level of competition in the squad but not to be a starter to begin with”. This characterization isn’t necessarily flattering, but the situation is one that De la Torre doesn’t find daunting. After all, he’s been here before.

“I think the way I see myself, whatever I have to do in my career, it’s always going to be ambitious and a step forward in competition,” he said. “I really welcome that. That’s why I’ve been successful with the national team, because I kind of embraced that situation. That’s why I’m happy to have this. And I also had to win my place at Heracles.” . It’s always the same in football. I think it’s going to be really fun here, with really good players.”

The move will come with the usual requirements of adapting to a new culture and language. De la Torre has a Spanish passport through his father, but his Spanish language skills disappeared long ago. “I’ll have to take classes,” he said.

There’s also the adaptation to the team’s style, although De la Torre believes his passing game and ability to move the ball while dribbling suits his new surroundings well. “I think a lot of people would say I’m a typical Spanish player, you know, very technical,” he said. “So I think I fit in well here.”

De la Torres’ ambitions for club and country have long been intertwined and his move to Heracles came with his international ambitions in mind. Playing in the Dutch league every week has boosted his confidence and De la Torre says he now knows more about himself as a player, how hard he can work the ball and how much that can help his team. “It just really made me come to myself,” he said.

He enjoyed the same progression with the US team. Only towards the end of 2021 was De la Torre called up with the full squad and his responsibilities increased over the course of World Cup qualifying, including starts in critical games against Honduras and Panama, both of which USA won.

“I think it was just a matter of taking my risk when I was playing for the national team,” he said. “I kind of felt like every time I played I had to be one of the best players on the field or make really good moves if I got a few minutes off the bench. [Otherwise], it would be hard to get another chance. I think I really embraced that feeling and was pretty consistent I think in the chances I got.

De la Torre has developed in such a way that he not only aims to get on the plane to Qatar, but also to force his way into the starting XI. As Berhalter is constantly tinkering with his midfield and there are always injuries in the game, this goal is within reach. To get his hands on it, he needs to make the most of his move to Celta. De la Torre said Berhalter gave his blessing to the move as it suited the player’s abilities.

“I have to adjust to a new club and that usually takes time, but I want to get going as soon as possible, get minutes, really show my quality here so I can make a difference in the national team,” he said.

De la Torre’s last bet has been made. Now it’s time to see if it pays off.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-usa/story/4697192/luca-de-la-torres-laliga-move-to-celta-vigo-is-a-bet-on-himself-will-it-lead-to-a-usmnt-world-cup-spot Luca de la Torre’s LaLiga move to Celta Vigo is a bet on himself

Emma Bowman

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