Dutch midfielder Eljero Elia has had a torrid time at Juventus since signing from Hamburg and has now confirmed he wants to leave the club. Liverpool and Newcastle are reportedly interested.
As the rest of the Juventus squad were revelling in winning the Serie A title one player cut a lonely figure and must have wondered if he actually merited a winners’ medal.
Eljero Elia took out his frustrations at being marginalised in what should have been a triumphant year in the spot-light in a candid interview with Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad where he basically called on potential suitors to come and get and him.
“I want out of here because I don’t feel like a regular,” lamented the winger. Well, there is no denying that statement.
Juve coach Antonio Conte gave the 10million euro signing from Hamburg a grand total of one start all season and that came back in late September at Catania where even then the Holland international only lasted 45 minutes before being replaced by the more experienced and eager Simone Pepe.
Things were to rapidly go downhill for the 25-year-old who managed a further three appearances from the substitutes’ bench for a grand total of 95 minutes in the league – and even then so badly was his confidence shaken that in the his last outing in the 4-0 win at Novara, he managed to miss two presentable chances when left one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Serie A is an unforgiving environment for those who fail to make an instant impact or cannot sustain a positive start as another redundant wide-man at the club Milos Krasic has found to his cost.
However, it looked as if Elia was tailor-made for Conte’s original game plan which was to play two wingers providing service for two out and out strikers in an adventurous 4-2-4 line-up but when the coach decided that those in wide positions needed to track back then he was never going to get the best out of the new man.
He possesses the trickery to cut in from the left and his pace and energy would be enough to worry any defence
With another new signing Mirko Vucinic given a free role in attack, Conte could not afford another maverick in the side especially as Andrea Pirlo needed willing runners in the shape of Arturo Vidal, Emanuele Giaccherini, Marcelo Estigarriba or Claudio Marchisio in midfield – with each capable of playing out wide even if not all possessed dazzling close control.
A further switch, with the employment of two wing-backs saw Elia pushed further down the pecking order and as Fabio Quagliarella returned to form after a long-term injury and Alessandro Del Piero made fleeting cameo appearances so any chance of securing a position through the middle of the attack receded.
It is not as if Elia is not good enough for Serie A but he happened to join a team chock-full of quality midfielders and attackers that as the season progressed found the perfect system to land the title.
Currently under contract until 2016, he could yet play a part in Juve’s future especially if Conte where to tinker once more with his formation and one could see Elia flourish out wide in a 4-2-3-1 line-up.
Although predominantly right-footed he possesses the trickery to cut in from the left and his pace and energy would be enough to worry any defence. Unfortunately, when given a rare chance to show off his talents he has just failed by a whisker to leave his mark.
Novara was one such occasion but so was the Italian Cup quarter-final where he was only given four minutes with the Bianconeri cruising to victory but still managed to fluff a good chance which otherwise may have persuaded Conte that he count on a tormentor of defenders to come on and cause havoc.
It wasn’t to be but that is not to say that such skill and talent cannot flourish in a new environment.
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