Why The 'New Messi' Would Make Liverpool's Attack Complete

Juan Iturbe to Liverpool? Read our Serie A expert's take on the new messi...
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Juan Iturbe to Liverpool? Read our Serie A expert's take on the new messi...

There are plenty of players knocking around various leagues in Europe trailing the tag of the new this or that behind them, who have never made that major breakthrough.

Juan Manuel Iturbe is the latest to have that albatross of the “new Lionel Messi” hanging round his neck but of late the 20-year-old has not found the extra weight of expectation too much of a burden if his early days at Hellas Verona are anything to go by.

A free-kick for his first goal in Italy was straight out of the Messi training-ground finish as he curled in a stunning effort from 25 metres in a 2-1 home win over Livorno and then at Bologna he looked even more a carbon-copy of the Barcelona ace as he cut in from the right side of the pitch around the half-way line before setting off on a diagonal run to the edge of the area to fire home a low shot.

This piece of exquisite action was executed with pace, control and of course a left-footed finish. It was a special goal from a player who has all the makings to follow Messi into the Argentina side: a low-centre of gravity and blistering acceleration topping off the photo-fit.

Perhaps more than anything the confidence in which he plays the game and in Italy where defenders will attempt to win the ball and at times take the opponent out of the game with it, the young South American has demonstrated that he will not be intimidated.

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Though he grew up in Paraguay, Iturbe was born in Buenos Aires where his parents had gone to work and it was Argentina who incited him “back home” when he fell out with the national team and his club Cerro Porteno.

This had come after an eye-catching debut in the Copa Libertadores as a 17-year-old when he scored after less than a minute from stepping on to the pitch and then added a second in a 5-2 rout of Colo Colo of Chile. From then on the European scouts were falling over themselves to land “the Paraguayan Messi”.

Having taken everyone’s breath away with such a sensational introduction to the big-time in the ranks of what is Paraguay’s most popular club, there was no time to waste in exporting him to Europe and a regular stopping off point for the next big things in South America: Porto in Portugal.

Having to wait a year until he turned 18 only raised expectations way beyond what should really be expected of a teenager who despite his rich promise still lived something of a sheltered life in Paraguay.

The ultra-professional and physically telling world of Europe took its toil and injuries coupled with a loss of form saw the youngster dropped to Porto B and shipped back to South American for a loan spell at River Plate.

Los Millonarios given him the freedom to express himself and having scored for Argentina Under-20s against Brazil in the South America Championship his future was set in the sky blue and white stripes. This is where Hellas stepped in, having already signed highly-rated midfielder Ezequiel Cirigliano from the Buenos Aires-based club.

Another loan deal with the right to land the player on a permanent move of just €8 million could turn out to be the best piece of business by an Italian side since Udinese’s capture of Alexis Sanchez for less than €2m back in 2006.

The Chilean would go on to join Barcelona for €31million and no doubt Hellas will be eyeing up a similar gold strike down the line. So far the little trickster has pushed his future transfer fee upwards, with his two goals but also his assists for that aging war-horse Luca Toni who has thrived on the service from the new arrival.

There is no doubt that Verona is only a mere stopping off point for what is set to be a successful second coming in European football for the turbo-charged Iturbe.