Juan Manuel Iturbe’s transfer to Genoa was stopped short on the last minute of the mercato. Walter Sabatini’s last gasp kept Enrico Preziosi away from last season’s major investment, and in Rome until further notice. Yesterday, the 28th of September, Preziosi claimed, “We had an agreement, a handshake, and a single contract to be signed. Iturbe agreed with us, then greeted his teammates. Sabatini’s decision left me very complexed, and I have not had an explanation of his behavior.”
A strange decision by Sabatini, indeed. If he had wanted to sell Iturbe, there are a few explanations as to why he would take such hasty action, damaging relations against an organization Roma often does business with: 1) Sabatini had someone else planned which was kept secret, and that deal collapsed, forcing Saba to keep another winger. 2) Sabatini didn’t think he would be able to loan Ibarbo. 3) Sabatini spoke with management, and they believed that if Iturbe didn’t have a strong loan-spell, his value would deteriorate even further. 4) Management really does believe in him, just as they did last year when they spent over 25 million euros on him. 5) Rudi and Iturbe spoke behind closed doors, and were able to seek reasonable terms for his playing time and growth.
Will Iturbe make it past the January transfer window? That is another question entirely. In Roma’s seven matches played this season, he has featured in all but one. However, his total time is only 118 minutes. Not even three halves worth. In testament to what he can offer, Iturbe’s goal against Frosinone was a splendid half-field run, and a selfishly great shot, made by that of a confident forward. However, when given more time, he still struggles to play for a centerforward, and provide the build-up play so crucial for Rudi Garcia’s attack. Subbed out in just the 50′ in the draw against Sassuolo, Rudi does not hesitate to pull him when his failure to build becomes the obvious. Iturbe’s pout when leaving the field was a sign of the player’s discontent, but he had no one else to blame but himself for that match.
Iturbe is likely to start tomorrow against Bate. Without Dzeko or Totti, Garcia will be deploying three wingers, who will seriously need to work on building their play with one another. There will be no lobbing up to Dzeko and running onto the ball; the trident of wingers will be forced to act as one cohesive unit, or we will not succeed. If Iturbe can take it to the boys in Belarus, then there is still hope for him in giallorosso. If not, a rescue by Sabatini will not come again in January.