Arturo Vidal started his run from a few yards inside the halfway line, reached the box and then waved his hand to attract Paul Pogba’s attention on his left. A split second later he raced in on the blind side of two defenders, leapt above them, met his teammate’s cross and placed a perfect looping header into the top left-hand corner.
It was a fitting climax to the Chilean’s hat-trick against Copenhagen in the Champions League last month. After three draws and a defeat, only a win would suffice and the No 23 did exactly what he is paid to do in the 3-1 victory.
From this week on, however, he will be getting just that little bit extra to do it. With a contract extension until 2017 and a considerable wage rise, he becomes the second highest earner in Serie A, after Roma’s Daniele de Rossi on €5.5m a year. Vidal is getting his just rewards.
Since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen in July 2011, El Guerrero has been one of the main inspirations behind the winning of the two successive Scudetti. His skills, determination and ability to initiate a change of direction without a moment’s thought have also brought him serious admirers outside the Bianconeri family including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
And who could blame them? With 32 goals in 100 games in all competitions, the midfielder has shown he is a vital part of Juve’s attacking strategy. So far this season, following 15 goals and 11 assists in all competitions last term, he has scored 10 in 19 games. His 28 shots with 11 on target is second only to top scorer Carlos Tevez and he also has the most League assists with four.
In addition to all that he seems to have added a bit of discipline to his game. This time last season he had earned five yellow cards and suffered a week’s suspension, but so far it’s been just three bookings this term. And to compliment the defensive side of his game his Coach Antonio Conte has mused: “Vidal will solve my problem of having so many great midfielders, I’ll just play him at the back!” Joking or not, Arturo demonstrates every week his do or die defensive attitude, which is ably reflected in his stats. With 56 tackles, easily the most amongst his teammates, he is fourth in the number of intercepts on 17 and with 31 also first in the number of fouls.
Simply put, he is the side’s standout player, a true warrior, who once he gets his teeth into something, does not easily give in and has subsequently become integral to Juve’s success. He also shares a wonderful rapport with the fans and is truly is one of them, even having the two title wins tattooed on his arms.
Although it’s uncertain that he will ever reach the all-time hero status enjoyed by the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, he is getting closer. There is one thing that is certain and that is that he thoroughly deserves his wage rise.