You can follow Roma for another several decades and never encounter a saga as strange a Juan Iturbe’s. It may be difficult to remember now, but if we harken back to the summer of 2014, you’d no doubt notice the unbridled enthusiasm with which Iturbe was brought to Roma. We tend to forget now, but Iturbe was, for all intents and purposes, a Juventus player, the final piece in Antonio Conte’s quest for four straight titles. And whether or not Iturbe had anything to do with Conte’s decision to quit the Old Lady remains unknown, but Roma pounced on that uncertainty to poach Iturbe from Juventus; and it all happened in a matter of hours.
So you could image the hysteria. Not only did Roma land one of the hottest prospects on the market, but they stole him from underneath the Old Lady’s liver spotted nose. It was a double win; nothing could go wrong. The kid Luca Toni once compared to Franck Ribery was now Roma’s, and it seemed like the pendulum was about to swing towards the Eternal City.
Of course, CdT was not immune to the excitement, as we pumped out three stories in a matter of hours and eventually placed him second in our inaugural U23 countdown; it was a frenetic pace that almost seems quaint compared to this summer. But I digress, to our credit, we were somewhat restrained in our jubilation:
No matter what you think of him, the kid is undeniably talented. In 33 appearances last season for Hellas Verona, Iturbe scored eight goals, contributed four assists and averaged 1.2 key passes per match and an astounding three successful dribbles per match. But, and this is a big but, outside of a handful of appearances for Porto, this was Iturbe's first and only taste of big-time football, so if you're a skeptic, consider you concerns warranted...Iturbe needs to produce now; there is no room for potential when you command that sort of price, if he really is the "New Messi", he needs to show it from day one.
I’m looking through our archives from that summer, and the entire period seems like a purple haze. From Iturbe to Davide Astori to the somewhat credible stories that Roma had signed DeAndre Yedlin, it was an insane summer, but there’s no doubt, Iturbe was the peak of that insanity.
Of course, we’re all too familiar with how quickly that hype subsided. While his first season was always meant to be a bit of transition phase, Iturbe fell flat on his face, garnering only 1,300 league minutes during which he managed only two goals and one assist; marks he would never surpass for either Roma, Bournemouth or Torino.
So what do we chalk this up to? Was moving to Roma on such a large deal too much too soon? Was he not fit for Rudi Garcia’s tactics? Or was he simply not that good? For my money, it’s probably a bit of #1 and #3, but since Iturbe is such a quiet kid, we may never know the extent to which he felt the pressure of that €24.5 million deal.
Iturbe, still just 24-years-old, has a lot of football ahead of him, though his next reported stop is quite a steep drop from Serie A. Word is circulating that Iturbe has reached an agreement with Mexican side Tijuana Xolos, who may or may not be taking Iturbe on full stop—some outlets say it’s a loan with a €5 million option to buy, others say it’s a straight €10 million sale.
Either way it appears as though one of the longest and saddest sagas in club history is coming to an end, but at least we’ll always have this...
So good luck, Manu. You had the heart, the passion and the commitment, but sometimes the fit just isn’t right.