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Totti Today #118: Iturbulence

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Who's gonna save the stormy career of Juan Manuel?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Let's take a moment to reflect on Juan Manuel Iturbe's career. One with ups and downs, and that's quite an understatement. Flying high at Verona and River Plate, crashing down at Roma and Bournemouth. A loan spell at Torino didn't work out as well, as Juan only managed one goal in 16 appearances, mostly as a sub. The Argentinian Paraguayan didn't expect his career to fade away so fast.

Just turned 24, Iturbe Isn't your promising or rising star anymore. He's at an age where you should be an undisputed starter for your club, playing 30+ games a season and preferably scoring 10+ goals in the process (for his position at least). For example: Salah and SES are just one year younger, Rüdiger is as old as Iturbe. When he was 24, Messi already won the CL and Ballon d'Or three times, and five titles in La Liga.

Okay, so I exaggerated a bit, and the comparison between Iturbe and Messi isn't that credible, but like Messi, he's also born in Argentina and kinda the same prototype of football player: short but quick, can operate wide and in the centre, both have a robust body. So why did Iturbe's career get shot down on its way from Verona to Rome, and why is it still in free-fall?

The career of a footballer depends on a lot of factors: The mentality, staying free of injuries, a bit of luck and, of course, a trainer who believes in you. Under Garcia and Spalletti, Iturbe never was a starter or even on the bench. Under Garcia, he at least played 27 games in 2014-2015. But ever since Mr Porompompero got fired and Spal took over, Juan has been a stranger in Rome. A loan spell of six months in England, 5 games for Roma between September 2016 and January 2017 and then shipped out to Torino.

Iturbe has scored 2 goals in Serie A since Summer 2015. Two. That's a normal amount for a defender (or goalkeeper), but for a guy like Iturbe? Far from it. When does Roma's patience end? We'll find out soon, because now with Di Francesco at the helm, Iturbe needs to convince a third trainer in the Eternal City that he's earned a spot at AS Roma. You know what they say, third time's a charm.

A lot of people will come back in pre-season, but not everyone will remain. Doumbia sure as hell won't, Skorupski doesn't want to act as Alisson's deputy and Gyomber and Castan are doubts as well, especially after Moreno's arrival and Monchi's words about Rüdiger not leaving. But Iturbe, now he could still be useful to Di Francesco in his 4-3-3.

It's tough to name some positives in Juan's performances at Rome. Uhm, I guess he's a nice guy in the locker room? To be fair, he does try his best on the pitch and his pace is among Roma's best. He likes to run and doesn't give up easily, he's not afraid of doing his defensive contributions. That might be enough for Eusebio to evaluate Iturbe until mid August and then decide on his future. All these loans and critics in the media might have taken its toll in Iturbe's head, but it's not too late. Not yet. Unlike Spal, Eusebio is not afraid to experiment and rotate with players, especially younger ones.

Di Francesco wasn't exactly praising Peres in his press conference while Florenzi is still recovering from his horrible injury. Salah seems the sacrificial lamb and looks set for Liverpool, so we have a void on the right side. Why not try him at RB in pre-season? That way, Peres and/or Florenzi can play a bit higher at RW in a 4-3-3, a position they prefer above RB. One or two decent games and Iturbe Airlines takes off. Finally.

This summer everyone starts with a clean sheet under Di Francesco, perhaps this is Iturbe's time to shine, or at least be a vital part of this team next season. Few deserve a third chance at the same club, Iturbe now has this opportunity, he can't let it slip way.

Turbulence has overshadowed Juan's career. Maybe the storm has passed and pilot Eusebio will lead Iturbe Airlines to sunnier, safer havens. Fasten seatbelts, please.