Roma pulled off arguably the coup of the summer transfer window in Italy by snatching Juan Manuel Iturbe from under the noses of Scudetto rivals Juventus. The Argentine seemed almost assured of moving to Turin, but Antonio Conte’s exit as Coach was seemingly simultaneous with Iturbe snubbing the Turin giants and instead signing with Rudi Garcia’s exciting Roma revolution.
The Giallorossi pounced on the uncertainty at Juventus and paid Verona €22m for the talented 21-year-old. The fact Roma paid one of their highest fees in club history on the player, after Gabriel Batistuta, Vincenzo Montella and Antonio Cassano, shows not only a willingness to win now, but enormous faith in Iturbe’s future potential.
Iturbe, as one of many to have been nicknamed ‘the new Lionel Messi’ early in his career, is a player that fits in perfectly with Coach Rudi Garcia’s tactical system. The youngster has similar characteristics to his compatriot at Barcelona, as his close control, low centre of gravity and ability to run with the ball at pace combine to make him an exciting prospect in attack.
He will predominately operate as a right-sided winger in a 4-3-3 formation, cutting on to his favoured left foot, whilst he possesses a keen eye for goal. Iturbe’s versatility means he can switch flanks seamlessly with Gervinho or Adem Ljajic, and his pace, dribbling and movement make him a viable alternative to Mattia Destro up front.
Iturbe adds depth to Roma’s attacking options and his goal-scoring ability has room for growth. Six of the forward’s eight goals for Verona last year came from outside the area, a statistic that shows a player who believes in his ability and isn’t afraid to unleash his powerful shot from distance.
Although he arrives with a hefty price tag, Iturbe remains humble and understands a starting spot in the team isn’t automatically guaranteed. “I am here to learn. I am still a young player and with Garcia I will learn so many things I currently lack. I have to train in order to find space in a competitive team”. At 21, Iturbe has exponential growth ahead and his abilities bring enthusiasm and belief to Giallorossi fans that they could be on the cusp of witnessing the next big star emerge in Serie A.
The Argentine has a host of veteran players with big game experience to learn from, as he continues his development. The likes of Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and new recruit Ashley Cole offer invaluable international and domestic knowledge and experience from having played in World Cup and Champions League Finals. This can benefit not only Iturbe but the entire squad, as the Giallorossi return to the European stage for the first time since 2011.
The capital club have spent a significant sum to sign Iturbe. He is ready for Serie A this season after a stellar debut campaign in Italy’s top flight with Verona. Still with room to grow and improve, Iturbe has the mental toughness and self assuredness to be an important figure in Roma’s present, as well as a focal point of its burgeoning future.