Juventus announce the signing of Marcelo Estigarribia. The general response, much like when the club snatched Arturo Vidal earlier this month, is a resounding WHO? Unless you’ve been paying very close attention to La Albirroja during the Copa América (or have regularly watched Newell’s Old Boys in the Argentine Apertura), you have likely seen very little of the Paraguayan midfielder, the second in Juventus’s all-time history (after Tomás Guzmán). A rather strange capture given the arrival of Emmanuele Giaccherini only the day before.
With both players now on board, Antonio Conte has a much improved battery of wingers, even if the ‘big-name capture’ has not arrived (nor is it likely to). With Giaccherini, Estigarriba, Milos Krasic, Cristian Pasquato and utility man Simone Pepe, the new coach has none of the issues balancing Milos Krasic on the opposite flank that besieged Gigi Delneri’s team selection.
But back to the man of the moment. Beppe Marotta seems to confused everybody with the signing truly catching people off-guard. Alarmed once more by our collective lack of knowledge on the player, we turned to Ralph Hannah – Paraguay correspondent for a number of well-known sites – to find out just who Marcelo Estigarribia really is.
What kind of player is Marcelo Estigarribia?
He is your old-fashioned left winger, likes to run at players and is a decent crosser of the ball. Trying to think of a European comparison I would say Arjen Robben – not in terms of quality but style. He will be comfortable playing in a 4-4-2 or as part of an attacking trio.
What can you tell us of his past, he’s not a player we’ve heard much about?
He made his senior debut at age 17 for Sport Colombia, an unfashionable club in the Paraguayan Primera that ended up getting relegated the same year. Estigarribia moved to Cerro Porteño one of Paraguay’s big four and his finest moment was in the 2008 Apertura when he scored the late winner in the superclásico against Olimpia (Paraguay’s version of River vs. Boca). In August of 2008 he was transferred to French side Le Mans but recently he’s played most of his football at Newell’s Old Boys of Rosario where he was a regular starter last year, unfortunately Newell’s have been struggling for form. Former Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino had used him sparingly until he impressed greatly in the pre-Copa América friendlies and played every game at the tournament. He was arguably Paraguay’s best player.
How suited is he to Italian football?
His pace and ability to run with the ball makes him a dangerous player in a counter-attacking side; he could even be used off the bench in tight games to try and unlock defenses. As I mentioned before, he is a natural winger so he will give Juventus width and could offer good balance with Krasic on the right hand side. His early problem (which affects a lot of players coming from this part of the world) is the physical aspect, not necessarily strength but fitness and adapting to the pace and intensity of a top European league.
Would you say this move looks like good scouting, bargain basement-shopping or panic-buying?
If the reports are correct, a one year loan for €450k with a 5m option to buy, then Juventus have a potential bargain on their hands. Marcelo Estigarribia was one of the best players on show in the Copa América and he gave Dani Alves a tough time in Paraguay’s first game against Brazil – that speaks volumes about his talent. Less than a month from of his 24th birthday, it is a good time to make the step from South America to Europe. As ever there are risks involved with a transfer of this type but I don’t see this as a panic buy, it is an astute signing.
Follow Ralph on Twitter (@paraguayralph) for more great insight on Paraguayan football.