Juventus officially announced the signing of Emanuele Giaccherini on 25th August and immediately followed it up with the loan move of Paraguayan winger Marcelo Estigarribia, making their eighth new transfer of 2011-12 season. Estigarribia is primarily a left winger and was extremely impressive during his country’s shock passage to the final of Copa America last month. If he manages to recapture his Copa form, then Juventus fans will be witnessing a very special player. Estigarribia has moved to Juventus on a loan deal worth 400,000 to 500,000 Euros with an option to buy for 5 million Euros. He has a EU passport so he will not be occupying any non-EU slot in Juventus.
Born on September 21st, 1987, Estigarribia started his career in the youth ranks of Club Unión Pacífico. He made his professional debut at the tender age of 17 – representing Club Colombia. Performances in Paraguay’s domestic circuit attracted the attention of European scouts as he was signed by French Ligue-2 outfit Le Mans in 2008. Estigarrbia’s 2.7 million pounds move from Cerro Porteno was the most expensive transfer in the history of Le Mans. Sadly, the Paraguayan failed to make a strong impression in Le Mans first team, making just 12 first team appearances. He returned to South America in 2009 when Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys lured him with a one and half year long loan move. He seemed to have regained his form in Argentina as he started 13 out of 19 matches in the 2010 Apertura Championship – leading Old Boys to a top half finish. His form attracted interest from Scottish powerhouse Rangers FC.
Impresses at Copa America
The 2011 Copa America was essentially the break through tournament for Marcello as he became one of the most important players for Paraguay – propelling them to an unlikely birth in final. In the opening match against Ecuador, Estigarrbia showed exquisite skills to set up Egar Barreto with a golden chance but the striker fluffed his shot. He could have scored a brilliant individual goal but ended up dragging his shot wide after running through the Ecuador defence. His serpentine run through the Selecao defence led to Roque Santa Cruz goal against Brazil in the second game. Paraguay was trailing 1-0 at that time and eventually ended up drawing 2-2. He troubled Dani Alves throughout the match and beat the Barca full-back with his pace and tricks multiple times over the course of 90 minutes. In the knock out stages, Gerardo Martino’s safety first approach saw Estigarribia lose his place to a more defensive minded Jonathan Santana but he was used as an impact sub in the semi-final and final.
Some believe that Marcelo Estigarribia’s signing might come off as a panic buy from Beppe Marotta. Juventus have been linked with a number of left wingers throughout the summer including the likes of Michel Bastos, Juan Vargas and Elia. Estigarribia’s transfer was a surprising and unexpected move in the end. A deduction may be drawn that Marotta went for a relatively cheaper and more easily accessible option after missing out on bigger names. At the same time, Estigarribia may prove to be an inspired purchase for a comparatively cheap amount. The Paraguayan’s performance in coming season will be crucial for Juventus.
Utility to the Team?
Like Giaccherini, Estigarribia also fits the type of winger wanted by new coach Antonio Conte. Like most of his team mates from the National team, he has good work rate and rarely gets muscled off the ball. He is not a conventional winger and usually cuts back in from the left wing and tries to launch short crosses/passes towards the strikers. He relies on trickery and dribbling skills to beat opponent full-backs instead of trying to outrun them. Theoretically, he should be a good foil to Milos Krasic, who is primarily a speedy player best in outrunning his markers.
Estigarribia was a relatively unknown player among bigger European clubs before bursting onto the scene during Copa America. Players who do well in International tournaments often fail to shine in clubs, is the popular belief. After 2002 World Cup, a number of Senegalese players were signed by English clubs but few of them managed to make a lasting impact – most notably El Hadji Diouf in Liverpool colors. This will be the first time Estigarribia will play in a club as big as Juventus, in a league which is totally different from the ones he has played till now. The risks which come with this transfer are considerably large but can have little impact financially, being a loan move. The club will be left with a group of left wingers who are unproven at top level – Giaccherini, Estigarribia and Pasquato (likely to be loaned out). If any of these players make a strong impact then Marotta’s work as a Sporting Director will be lauded by Juventini worldwide, a Martinez like flop, however, will cause a lot embarrassment to the former Sampdoria man as well as the club. However, latest links with Florent Malouda are encouraging; the Frenchman although ageing, has both quality and experience to do well in Italy.
Marcelo Estigarribia is an underwhelming signing when one considers the wingers linked to Juve so far but he has potential to do well in Serie A though there is an equal chance that he might fail.