Newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth kicked off their New Year with the impressive loan signing of Argentina winger Juan Manuel Iturbe from AS Roma until the end of the season, with the option to sign him on a permanent deal in the summer for an estimated £14.7m.
But how much do you know about the Cherries’ latest addition? Shoot takes a closer look at Eddie Howe’s flashy new forward…
Why have Bournemouth signed him?
Having lost last campaign’s top goalscorer Callum Wilson to injury early on this term; it was imperative AFC Bournemouth strengthened their attacking ranks during the January transfer window if the Cherries are to stay in the Premier League for a second successive season come May. Especially now with recent injuries to further forwards Matt Ritchie and Joshua King alongside fellow long-term absentee Max Gradel, Juan Manuel Iturbe’s arrival at the Goldsands Stadium is warmly welcomed by everyone involved at the club. Currently hovering just three points above the bottom three in their first-ever season in the English top-flight, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe needs all the frontline force he can muster during his side’s remaining 16 league games as goal difference could prove pivotal come the end of the campaign. The highly-rated winger; who has been linked with moves to Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool in the past, acts as promising attacking cover for the Cherries current crop of injured forwards, although Iturbe himself will be determined to become the star attraction on the south-coast given his glistening reputation in European football. Despite being just 22-years-old; Bournemouth have signed someone who is familiar with the extreme pressures of top-flight football given his spells at FC Porto and Roma, plus he boasts UEFA Champions League experience having starred for the Serie A outfit against the likes of FC Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen and BATE Borisov already this term.
Will he be a good signing?
Dubbed as the ‘new Lionel Messi’ only a few years ago; it is fair to say Iturbe hasn’t quite fulfilled his prodigious potential, but he’ll be hoping to flourish in what is now deemed as one of the toughest football leagues in the world. With Bournemouth boss Howe refusing to back down from his fast flowing attacking football; Iturbe’s rapid turn of pace, keen eye for goal, excellent balance and nimble agility are the perfect characteristics the Cherries require if they are to beat the drop. Equipped with a powerful left foot, the Argentine will almost inevitably be likened to teammate Ritchie as Iturbe loves to drift inside from the right-flank to test goalkeepers from long-range. Still only 22; it is only natural that he has a tendency to be a little selfish on the ball and eventually execute the wrong decision or option in the final third of the field, but that is a trait that will wear off with experience and maturity. New boss Howe is confident the loanee can play a crucial role for his side this season, with Iturbe destined to continually try his luck against full-backs with his ferocious speed, instant drop of the shoulder and expert close control. The ex-FC Porto star will want to be centre of attention whilst on the field, forcing Cherries fans to rise to their feet as he dangerously dribbles down the attacking flanks. Predictably; the Premier League will see Iturbe cut inside from the right-hand side onto his favoured and vigorous left foot numerous times, so goalkeepers will definitely have to be on their toes to ensure they are not caught out by a long-range rocket. If the young forward can reap the benefits of Howe’s management methods and offensive style of play; whilst also developing a teamwork trait, there is no doubt Bournemouth have acquired a ‘good’ January addition, if not a great acquisition. But now it is time for Iturbe to fulfill his world-class potential and prove his admirers correct. If the Argentine can sparkle down on the south coast within the next four to five months, that option to buy him for £14.7m in the summer will be looked upon as a bargain rather than a potential club-record fee before too long.