Finally the long-running ‘Arturo Vidal’ saga draws to a conclusion. Juventus emerged triumphant in the race to sign the other Chilean player making his name in Europe. Vidal opted for the Bianconeri and put pen to paper on a 5 year deal to become only the second Chilean to ply his trade for the Old Lady of Turin after Marcelo Salas. An agreement of €10.5 million was reached between Juve and Leverkusen. His arrival also consequently signaled the departure of Felipe Melo from Vinovo.
Vidal’s career began in his hometown club of Colo Colo, who are renowned for their famed youth academy. He represented Chile at the U20 World Cup, where he would finish as the second top scorer with 5 goals. He also helped Chile to a third place finish and caught the eye of many scouts with his performances. However, it was Bayer Leverkuen that would make the move to sign him for a fee of $11 million. Rudi Völler in particular was convinced of his talent and took him to Germany. At Leverkusen, Vidal endured a lot of flak for his silly yellow cards. His first season in Germany was more than decent and was praised for his showings on the field. He continued his growth as a player.
He came to the fore as a player in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Chile’s coach at the time, Marcelo Bielsa, used him in a more defensive role in midfield. But that didn’t deter his performances as he proved to be one of his side’s more consistent players. The last season however, has been his breakthrough season at Leverkusen and he really started making a name for himself in Europe gaining many admirers in the process. Under the tutelage of Jupp Heynckes, Vidal slowly started fulfilling his early promise. Heynckes offered him more space and freedom in a more box-to-box midfield role. He was the orchestrator of attacks and would control and command play for his side. Vidal thrived in his role and was the driving force behind his side’s best ever finish in over a decade last season.
In modern football, versatility is a trait that cannot be understated and Vidal is as versatile as they come. He can play anywhere along midfield, in defense and perhaps even more impressive is his consistency and effectiveness in the position that he’s deployed in. He boasted a remarkable 2,810 touches last season thus underlining his influence in a game. At Leverkusen, he was employed as a defensive midfielder alongside the impressive Lars Bender. A look at his stats however tells a different story. Vidal had an outstanding 11 assists to his name and 10 goals albeit 6 came from the spot, which is efficient in itself. These stats speak volumes of his prodigious talent. Vidal can tackle, pass and is blessed with an incredible amount of stamina. He is equally adept defensively as he is offensively. In short, Vidal is every tactician’s dream player.
Vidal can be a bit too rash at times and may fall prey to unnecessary yellow cards. He may pick up needless bookings due to rash tackles or a sudden rush of blood to his head. Though his disciplinary record last season has seen a considerable improvement from his previous two at Leverkusen. Vidal’s concentration levels too have been questioned in the past. Any loss of which could prove to be fatal in a big game or towards the climax of a match. His lack of experience at a big European club could also form a drawback. Indeed Juve’s jersey comes with a lot of expectation and the weight of it may prove to be too much for his shoulders.
Possible Impact at Juventus
For now it remains uncertain as to which formation Antonio Conte will use. A 4-2-4 formation will see Vidal partner former Milan midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo in the centre of the park. Vidal’s defensive duties here will come into play and he’ll have to offer protection to his defense a bit more than in a 4-3-3. The 4-3-3 might well give him more freedom to venture forward and join in the attack, thus getting himself more involved with the build-up play. Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo will provide him with more support and cover. It will offer him more scope in exploiting his unquestionable talent and make full use of his undeniable potential. His role will be more of a box-to-box player and familiar to the one he had at Leverkusen last season.
Vidal, however has big shoes to fill. Last season Felipe Melo and Alberto Aquilani formed one of the most successful partnerships in Serie A. Both of whom have left Juventus this season somewhat surprisingly. In a different league from the Bundesliga, Vidal’s tactical side of his game should be well suited to Serie A but then again there’s always an element of doubt surrounding the capability of a player to adapt to a new league and a new team. The last player brought in from Germany to Juventus was Brazilian Diego who didn’t quite match up to the incredibly high expectations that surrounded his arrival and neither did the last Chilean player to play for Juve, Marcelo Salas.
Vidal is a terrific reinforcement; there are no two ways about it. One of the most outstanding players in the Bundesliga last season and he will definitely inject quality into the current Juve side. The price paid for him is reasonable enough and at the age 24, Vidal has his best years ahead of him. A very good signing by all means, the Chilean International can prove to be the jack of all trades so far in Serie A – one that has excited most of the Juve tifosi and has been greeted with a huge sense of optimism.
Rating – 8/10