Old Lady still searching for the stars
Before the summer market transfer window opened, Juventus fans dreamed of Alexis Sanchez or Juan Cuadrado and the opportunity to truly build a side that would help Antonio Conte fight for honours in the Champions League. Not only has the coach now departed, but also the arrivals do not excite, and one wonders if brilliance will be sold to allow for more mediocrity within the side.
Roberto Pereyra was officially presented to the fans and media on Friday, and while the Udinese player is certainly famous for all the bubbling potential he is supposed to possess, it is not certain that he will ever live up to the expectations and demonstrate exactly why he was once a hero at River Plate.
Only 23, Pereyra is a fan favourite for his energy, versatility and confidence. So loved, there was even a song dedicated to the Argentine titled "La Cumbia del Tucu" by Leo Artaza. His talent is obvious, and he never shies away from hard work. Much like Arturo Vidal was recruited for his stamina, Pereyra was respected by the directors for his physique and willingness to provide non-stop action.
He is far from being considered a failure, but he isn't one who left a lasting impression at Udinese and is still considered a work in progress as opposed to a ready-made star. Certainly capable and dedicated to developing his talent, Pereyra has shone in certain roles but has somewhat faded on during matches. However, for the coach, his beauty lies in his versatility.
At River Plate, he was accustomed to playing on the left hand side of a 3-5-2 formation or the variations of that tactical scheme. His willingness to sacrifice and tactical understanding of the game makes him a secret weapon for any tactician -- a player that can slot in everywhere. Against Verona, Pereyra was positioned on the right, and the manner in which he controlled the ball and explored the space to work with Antonio Di Natale ahead of him proved his understanding of the game while simultaneously demonstrating his affinity with the ball.
"I like to play on the wing, but I want to be ready to play in any role the coach asks, that includes the playmaker position," stated Pereyra when asked about where he likes to be deployed at Udinese.
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Based on what we have seen from him in Serie A, his best performances have come as a playmaker in the games such as the high-scoring march against Livorno or in the game against Fiorentina when he provided the assist that allowed his side to win 1-0. Consistently searching for opportunities to contribute, he boasts talent and the ability to offer another skill set to a well-balanced side but perhaps isn't good enough to be considered as more than a squad player or potential tactical weapon at the present.
The imminently arriving Romulo falls into the same category -- another good squad player renowned for his versatility but not one that sets pulses racing. Once referred to as the "energetic beast that has little substance" by one Sporting director, Romulo has certainly improved, learning how to best exploit his talent and make the most of his strengths.
Concentrated and disciplined, he is excellent at set-pieces, but his greatest strength is his ability to play in numerous positions, offering great tactical intelligence and the willingness to improve even further. A player with a character that forces him to fight for a positive result until the very end, he is appreciated for his toughness and unselfish qualities -- a man who always liked to put his team ahead of himself.
Unlike Pereyra -- who has struggled to show off his talent against the bigger sides -- Romulo has excelled when playing the big teams, and that included the 2-2 draw against Juventus in February when he provided the two assists that helped salvage a point against the champions.
Perhaps the best player for his team that day, Romulo was the only player showing talent in the 4-2 loss against Inter in October 2013. In addition, he sent shockwaves down Rossoneri spines when he provided an assist that helped his newly promoted side achieve a win on the opening day of the season against Milan.
Again, it must be said that Romulo and Pereyra aren't the champions that offer the individual quality that would allow Juventus to solve certain games. However, they certainly offer a different range of skills that have been missing and a certain type of character that should ensure their development even further.