Eljero Elia, once touted as the next great winger to come out of Netherlands Factory of attacking talent, is now languishing on the bench of Juventus. This comes as a surprise to many, especially after Juventus shelled out €9 million to bring the former Hamburg Star to Italy.
Starting off at ADO Ben Hag, Elia as a young boy impressed coaches in the youth team with his maturity and skills.The young winger was rewarded with his professional debut at just 17 years old. However the temperamental winger fell out with then club coach Lex Schoenmaker over team tactics and faced an uncertain career at ADO Ben Hag. Fortunately for him, FC Twente moved in and signed the starlet.
What followed was the blossoming of the winger, scoring 11 goals in 64 games for the Tukkers and he was duly awarded with the Dutch Football Talent of the year award in 2009, an award won by Dutch legend Dennis Berkamp, current Dutch stars Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie. The former is a player whom Elia is frequently compared with.
With Europe’s elites hovering over the winger, he eventually moved to Hamburg in the summer of 2009 in a deal worth £8.8 million.
At Hamburg , Elia made his Debut on the first match of the season and in two short years, won the adulation of supporters with his inspired performances for the German club. He racked up six goals in 40 games and was a constant threat down the left hand side. Lighting up the league with impressive performances.
At Hamburg, Elia impressed Europe with his play style. Elia represents a rare breed of pure inverted wingers who stray away from the ” run and cross routine”, preferring to cut in and shoot. Deployed naturally on the left, Elia possesses great control on both feet which is one of his greatest strengths. Defenders often face a difficult task defending against him as he is comfortable cutting in to take a shot using his right foot or crossing from the channels using his left. Furthermore, Elia , like Robben, is proficient at speed dribbling. His excellent technical ability allows him to keep close control of the ball while maintaining his blistering pace. Taking on slower defenders to great effect. Moreover, he has good shooting ability and can create for others with his accurate crossing and incisive through balls.
That being said, Elia is not a man without faults. His tendency to disappear in matches has lead to many inconsistent performances. Elia also lacks proficiency in front of goal due to his poor decision making. Mainly trying ambitious shots instead of squaring the ball to his teammates.
Despite his flaws, Elia worked hard and grew from strength to strength, improving his decision making and finishing.
The move to Juventus in 2011 heralded a chance for Elia to show critics that he could succeed at one of the biggest clubs in the world. As part of an influx of signings to rejuvenate an aging Turin squad, Elia looked set to make an impact.
Sadly, that would not be the case. Controversy already started before he came to the club, with the press reporting that he did not want to move to Juventus in the first place. The player apparently wanted a move to Arsenal instead.
Antonio Conte the manager at Juventus also dropped the winger as he did not fit in with his Tactics. This is because Conte opts for a more narrow minded formation which leaves Elia out due to his play style. Elia became an unlikely bench warmer and has since been seeking a move out of the club.
Newcastle and Arsenal are clubs that have actively pursued the winger but Liverpool would benefit most from his signing. With a limited budget, Liverpool cannot afford to shell out millions of pounds for Europe’s top talent. English talent is also ridiculously inflated. Yet Elia is a steal at £5 million. A small fee compared to the ineffective and expensive signings like Downing or Henderson. Elia can be deployed on the left, on the right or even behind strikers Carrol and Suarez. His pace, trickery and creativity could revolutionize Liverpool just like what Robben did at Chelsea.
Liverpool have had a love hate relationship with Dutch players over recent years. Massive flops like Ryan Babel have left fans fuming while on the other hand, Dirk Kuyt has endeared himself onto the KOP with his industrious play. However, with Dirk Kuyt approaching the end of his career at Liverpool, Elia is the next best alternative to replace him.
Elia has been living in a nightmare at Juventus. The player is desperate to revive his career and play regularly, and Liverpool could just be the place for him to fulfill his goals and unlimited potential.