Iturbe – The Past and Present

Iturbe – The Past and Present
Feb 29, 2016

Bournemouth

Juan Manuel Iturbe signed for the Cherries in the January window for a one-year loan deal. Predictably, at the age of 22 and earning a wage of around 70k a week, expectations are very high. So, will he impress?

The young Argentinian’s deal was finalised on January 1st, which Bournemouth supposedly hijacked from Watford. Images arose on social media of Iturbe in a North London Starbucks, possibly discussing his contract. The Bournemouth deal includes an option to buy for roughly £16m.

Iturbe pictured in Watford Starbucks discussing deal... Most thought it was finalised.

Iturbe pictured in Watford Starbucks discussing deal… Most thought it was finalised.

Juan was born in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires to two Paraguayan parents. He played for Paraguay in several age groups, including the first team. He made his first-team debut at the age of 16 in a friendly against Chile – subbed on in the 73rd minute – which Chile then went on to win 2-1. Even though it was a friendly, 16 years old and coming on at any national level is a huge achievement. Then, upon a dispute with the Paraguayan staff and still being eligible for the Argentine national system, he made the swap. Despite changing to Argentina he has not played a game for the first team but has scored 2 goals in 13 games for the Under 20’s.

Iturbe’s club career has been mostly spent in the Italian league. However, his career began in Paraguayan Premier Division for Cerro Porteño. Between the ages of 16 and 19, he made 30 appearances for the South American club scoring 5 times. Despite the low goal tally, his playing style – along with his age – clearly impressed, as it attracted the attention of Paraguay’s national team. As he was not on a professional contract with Cerro Porteño, due to age, he had a pre-negotiated deal to join Porto when he turned 18.

On the 10th of December 2011, Iturbe replaced Hulk in added time against S.C Beira Mar to debut for the Portuguese side; the same season Porto went on to claim the title. After only making 4 ‘off-the-bench’ appearances for Porto he moved to River Plate on a 6-month loan the following season. In this time, he scored 3 goals in 17 games.

Iturbe’s entire career has been as a Right Midfielder/Right Winger so goals are not a fair judgement on his performance. Although the position should reap some goal threat, his dribbling and pace penetrate defences taking his team into dangerous positions in the final third. Despite being a higher attacking player, when playing for Bournemouth his defending and commitment into tackles is second to none.

From his loan to River Plate he was then loaned out to Hellas Verona, who at the time were a newly promoted Serie A side. He had a very successful season at Verona: scoring 8 times and assisting 4. Having impressed immediately, he was then bought by Verona for €15m off Porto on the 27th of May 2014. Then, just 50 days later, Italian giant’s – Roma, bought Iturbe for €22m (as well as performance based add-on fees up to €2.5m) on a 5-year-deal. During this period, Iturbe was attracting interest from Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.

His time at Roma was cut short due to the loan move to Bournemouth. He had failed to kick into form for the Italian side, so will Bournemouth’s style of play fair him any better?

The majority of goals came from Callum Wilson for The Cherries last year, and his absence due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury has altered Bournemouth’s attacking options. Their passing and attacking football has only got the Sea-Siders 30 goals so far this campaign while conceding 44 (27 games played). Callum’s attacking runs, matched with his pace and power suit the Cherries style of play. Iturbe is renowned for his speed and strength, so upon first glance, it is promising! A big question to any player joining the Premier League is whether they will quickly adapt to the game.

Iturbe made his debut for Eddie’s men against West Ham, after being subbed on for Matt Ritchie. His performance as a whole was good, not especially amazing but neither was it poor. He tracked back plenty of times and made some tricky runs between defenders. His highlight of the game was forcing a diving save from Adriàn to his right. From the edge of the box following a corner, Juan tried to place the ball in the bottom left, but the keeper got a hand to it. It is not hard to see that Iturbe likes to run at players, and cut inside onto his favoured left foot. However his beating of defenders usually ends in offloading the ball, a cross, or a through ball to one of his busy teammates.

He got very busy in his early games and he just needs time and a chance to prove himself in Premier League Football. Whether he should start or not is a big question, he doesn’t seem to have 90 minutes of football in him and this isn’t the time to be experimenting with options. At this crucial point of the season at the lower end of the table, there is very little margin for error. However despite this, he has been excellent and deserves a start in the league in the very near future. He has been keeping match fit outside of Dean Court with games for under-21s scoring 2 hat-tricks in 2 games. Understandably, this isn’t an honest demonstration of his performance, but a statistic worth sharing.

Overall, Iturbe’s electric pace, strength, and bold tackles – to name a few – are good assets to have as a Bournemouth player. Still being young, once he combines these attributes with experience in the Premier League; he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I think he should get more game time so he can prove himself and see if he is worth the £16m option to buy. He could become something great for the Cherries, we should not miss out on having such a promising talent and great player at current.

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