Midfielder | Juventus | Uruguay
Having made his way through Boca Juniors’ famed academy, Juventus brought Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur to Europe in July 2017 on the back of his performances out in Argentina.
A wonderfully gifted central midfielder, Bentancur was one of the youngsters the Old Lady asked to have first option on when Carlos Tevez left Turin for Buenos Aries back in 2015 and, three years later, would become a fixture of Massimiliano Allegri’s all-conquering first-team.
Now a seasoned international level footballer and an Italian league and cup double winner to boot, 2018 has been a big year for the 21-year-old.
2018 has been…
At the turn of the year, Bentancur was still getting to grips with his move to one of Europe’s traditional big leagues. After linking up with the Bianconeri in July 2017, he largely operated on the periphery of the star-studded starting XI, appearing sporadically alongside the likes of Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi as Juve held off Napoli’s charge for the Serie A title.
10 league games from January onwards yielded little in the way of first-team minutes, though his class was gradually becoming more and more evident as the year wore on. Given a starting role this season, one of the pillars of Uruguay’s new generation appears to be fully ingrained into the culture of success at the Allianz Stadium.
17 games so far this season have yielded 14 starts, taking his tally up to 21 starts in 30 games for the year. Considering the depth of talent we mentioned earlier, that’s pretty good going, when you consider the trophies he’s picked up along the way.
Bentancur has managed to chip in two goals and register an assist across the calendar year, though that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. A midfielder with the ability to help his side control games in the middle of the park, his stunning performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford largely overshadowed the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the Theatre of Dreams.
While he’s by no means a direct replacement for the legendary Andrea Pirlo, a performance of such quality in a high-profile game such as that went some way into suggesting he can help bring some of that control and quality to a side desperate to convert their domestic dominance into continental success. Able to operate either behind the defence or in front of the midfield, his versatility is helping him force his way upon first-team proceedings wherever you look.
Indeed, his success during 2018 isn’t merely limited to the club game. Thrust into the Uruguayan team just prior to the World Cup in Russia (starting just one game before their campaign) Bentancur looked a natural fit alongside Lucas Torreira as Oscar Tabarez looks to usher in a new era for La Celeste.
He started all five of his country’s games in Russia as they made it to the quarter-final stage before eventually falling to France in Nizhny Novgorod, proving he can operate at the highest of levels in the game already.
Such has been the rapidity of his rise in 2018, it’s hard to look past anything other than continued improvement in the coming years. Already all but a first-team regular at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he’s already revealed the importance of working with a manger such as Allegri at this stage of his career.
If he can carry on the upward trajectory he set himself on in 2018 and possibly help Juventus finally deliver a Champions League title, Rodrigo Bentancur can be of the very best midfield operators in the world.