Pending the approval of a work permit, Roma winger Juan Iturbe will complete a rather surprising move to Premier League minnows Bournemouth.
The Argentine, who signed for the Giallorossi in the summer of 2014 for €22 million (though the final figure is believed to have been €31m), has flattered to deceive during his time at the Stadio Olimpico, despite having taken Serie A by storm whilst on loan at Hellas Verona in the 2013/14 campaign.
Iturbe was an exciting talent in Italy’s top flight, as were Verona at the time. In both cases, however, the commotion appears to have been muted.
Since moving to the Eternal City, the winger has started just 20 times in Serie A. This season, the figure is a measly three, all of which were due to the respective absences of Mohamed Salah and Gervinho, too.
Known best for his pace and ability to thump a shot beyond a despairing goalkeeper, Iturbe is an incredibly flawed footballer. Branded as selfish by Andrea Mandorlini – his coach at Verona – the Argentine is no stranger to making a poor decision.
You almost get the impression that he is yet to learn to think like a footballer; he is still quite raw, despite being around long enough that he should perhaps know better.
Even his strengths show inconsistencies. He has the ability to dispatch a fierce strike, but his conversion ratio leaves a lot to be desired. His eight goals during his most fruitful season in Italy came from 72 shots (one goal in nine shots).
A graphic on Sky Sports recently compared Iturbe with fellow countryman Lionel Messi. This comparison is too outrageous to be worthy of discussion. With regard to his seasons at Roma, Bojan Krkic and Jeremy Menez show stronger correlation.
If his time at Verona was deemed a success, then his stint in Rome can be branded as nothing other than a failure. Iturbe, it seems, has been figured out in Italy.
There are similarities to be drawn between his career and that of Shaun Wright-Phillips, who never quite grasped the opportunity presented to him when he moved from Manchester City to Chelsea when City were nowhere near the force they are in England today.
Having demolished teams single-handedly while wearing the Gialloblu shirt, it is hard to recall many standout moments from his days at Roma, with the obvious exception of his strike that gave the Giallorossi the lead in last season’s crucial Derby della Capitale against Lazio.
Iturbe could well prove to be a success on England’s south coast. Personally, I hope he does. Unfortunately, however, I cannot see any success he is to have being long-lasting.
For me, the 22-year-old is too one-dimensional to not be worked out, though I hope I go on to be proven wrong.
If teams afford him space to run into, they simply will be punished. In a counter-attacking league, he is presented with a fresh start, not overly dissimilar to the chance provided to him at Verona.
Should Iturbe go on to build a successful career in some of Europe’s top flights, it will likely lie away from a club with the stature of Roma.