January means one thing for fans of the beautiful game—the silly season, better known as the transfer window. The time is spent throwing names against a wall, very few of which actually stick, of players we think our favorite team will purchase. It is often filled with moves that may not contain huge names in terms of the headlines they create, but for fantasy managers these names can be the missing piece to a successful season, no matter how small.
The first significant transfer of the January window in the Premier League was the loan move for Juan Manuel Iturbe, the Argentine winger from AS Roma in Serie A, who has joined AFC Bournemouth for the remainder of the season. Long expected to end up at Watford, the Cherries snatched him away at the last moment, and they have an option to purchase him outright at the end of the loan agreement.
Sitting just above the relegation zone as of today, Bournemouth should benefit greatly from an injection of pace and creativity into the side, not to mention a healthy attacking player. However, what does this transfer mean for the club, and for fantasy owners? Let’s take a look!
Who is Juan Manuel Iturbe?
Iturbe is a young, dynamic left-footed winger with pace and dribbling prowess at his disposal. He was once dubbed the "new Messi" thanks to a goal at the South American U-20 Championship in 2011 against Chile, which saw him make a phenomenal run from midfield to score.
At only twenty-two years of age, the Argentine has already played for two of the better clubs in Europe, as he moved to FC Porto in 2011. He was loaned out in 2013 to River Plate, and again that summer to Verona, where he performed very well for the Italian side, registering eight goals and four assists—a number that is somewhat deceiving as he was credited with creating almost forty goal-scoring chances on the season.
Iturbe completed a move from Verona in summer of 2014, with Roma beating out Juventus for his services by paying a reported fee of 22 million euros. He has struggled to find playing time for the Italian side this campaign, and has managed just one goal and assist so far. The forward has made only nineteen appearances on the season between Serie A, Champions League, and Coppa Italia. In that time, he has logged just 638 minutes of pitch time—an average of just over a half hour every time out. Thus, a loan move made perfect sense for all parties.
How will he fit in at Bournemouth?
With the amount of injuries that the Cherries have suffered, he brings a fresh body who can help with their attack. He will play and I expect that he will play often. The biggest question, however, is just where he will play.
Iturbe’s preferred position is on the right flank, although he has been deployed in the past as a left winger and as a striker. However, Bournemouth currently have a key player on the right, with Matt Ritchie holding down that spot at the moment. The biggest need for the side at the moment is up top, so it is very likely that Iturbe will find himself deployed as a striker, or possibly out on the left of the formation.
Another concern with Iturbe is that the player speaks very limited English, which could lead to him getting off to a slow start in a side that plays an organized style such as what the Cherries prefer.
What does this mean for fantasy owners?
Iturbe is a player who often will cut inside to take shots with his stronger foot, and has shown a knack for scoring from outside the box. He is also very adept at drawing fouls, which can bring points in some formats. He also enjoys shooting often from the wing, averaging over two shots per game with Verona, and over almost two shots per game last season when seeing regular playing time.
Only three clubs have scored fewer points than Bournemouth this season, so the addition of a dynamic winger with pace and the ability to fire from distance is a welcome addition to their attack. For fantasy owners, he provides a cheap option who can come in and make an instant impact. It also helps that he has a very friendly upcoming slate to start his time at the club. Bournemouth’s next ten Premier League matches are:
At Watford FC
Outside of Arsenal, you don’t have a single match in that ten-match slate where you would view the Cherries as being overmatched to the point that a goal is not likely. That means if Iturbe can get off to a good start, taking a chance on him early at a low cost could reap a large reward for fantasy owners.
Having faced off against the likes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, he will not be daunted by the defenses he will face the first ten weeks at his new club. Iturbe not only could be the first player to move to the Premier League in this transfer window, but he could also turn out to be one of the biggest impacts for savvy fantasy owners when the season is over.
What do you think of the newest addition to the Premier League? Is he someone that you are looking forward to watching play? Will you be looking to make him part of your Fantasy Premier League rosters? Join the discussion below and share your thoughts!