21 Midfielder AS Roma Argentina
2014 has been…
…an absolute Elvis ’68 of a year.
Let me explain and in the process tell you a little of how the IBWM 100 sausage is made. IBWM’s editing team split the profiles up between them and in the process keep any players who they have covered before. This way we stay with their career and can put progress into proper context. With this in mind let me take you back to early 2012 and a young editor who for argument’s sake we’ll call “Dave Hartrick”.
Hartrick received his list and was excited to have Juan Iturbe to watch for the year. The little Argentinean had been given the un-fairest of all the comparisons to live up to – “the new Messi” – but this was lazy. Iturbe shared some basic characteristics but this was an impossible benchmark. What was exciting was he had now earned the requisite move to Europe with Porto and was a lovely player to watch. Hartrick was excited.
What followed was dismal. On reflection “dismal” is being charitable. I, sorry, Hartrick had to give him a bottom mark and he seemed to be slipping into nothingness in Porto’s B-team. A shame but these things happen; the spotlight’s not for everyone after all.
This sad decline continued and Porto just wasn’t happening when it had seemed like a good fit at the time of the transfer. In 2013 he returned to his home country with a loan to River Plate and whilst not exactly setting the place on fire, he did show signs of life with a few goals and some good games if not the mouth-watering performances of old.
Last season was spent in Italy with Hellas Verona taking him on loan. It was here the comeback began in earnest. He now looked physically more capable, the slight winger often slinking into the shadows in his rare first team appearances in Portugal now happy to go shoulder to shoulder with a full-back. He was taking men on again, then the tricks returned. He looked like a player who had been let off the leash after a miserable two years, which is exactly what he was.
There was also the goals. Some excellent goals to be precise (well worth a YouTube wherein you will find them all collated on one video with a terrible soundtrack no doubt). Over the course of the season it became clear Juan Iturbe was a footballer again, and this made Hartrick a very happy man.
In the summer he first signed permanently for Hellas for €15m, who then immediately made money on their purchase by selling him to Roma within two months for €22m. He had settled into Italian football quickly and become hot property, the move to Roma tied up relatively quickly to put off the admiring glances of Juventus and Milan. He was also once more being scouted by the usuals – Barca, Real Madrid, Arsenal etc – and it was officially okay to say Juan Iturbe looked like a brilliant young player again.
He has started this season well in a much-changed side who are still adjusting it would be fair to say (at the time of writing anyway). He already has a Roma Champion’s League goal to his name (an opener in their first group game against CSKA) and another against the best side in the division, Juventus. He looks comfortable across a front three, can come inside and play behind a striker or do a more traditional job on the wing when required. He’s a man reborn and he looks like he’s never going to disappear into a B-team again.
If you had told us in 2012 we would be doing another profile on Juan Iturbe we would never have believed you. If you had told us we would be doing another profile, he was now playing regularly in Serie A and the Champion’s League for Roma, he had regained his love for the game and the power and pace now matched the skill on the ball, we would have told you that you had lost it. It has been brilliant to watch him this last year and we’re delighted he’s back on track. In doing the 100 you “lose” players, footballers that look a million dollars but just never push on. This is one who we thought was gone but who has proved us wrong. We hope he continues to prove us wrong for a long, long time to come.
“Injury has hampered his impact, but looks like a superb acquisition for Roma, his pace & direct style providing the Giallorossi with the kind of attacking wing play rarely seen in Italy. Iturbe is a perfect fit for Rudi Garcia’s system & style” – Adam Digby
"Juan Iturbe was involved in 12 goals for Verona during the 2013/14 Serie A campaign. Domenico Berardi was the only player younger than Iturbe to play a hand in 10+ goals." - OptaJoe
C+ Wow. This may not be an A or B but the progress this represents is just incredible in the context of his previous two years
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