After just a handful of appearances, Rodrigo Bentancur has already started to make a name for himself at Juventus, in one of the toughest leagues in the world
“We also have Bentancur, which may be the surprise of the championship”, said Juventus manager Max Allegri to the press ahead of the 2017/18 Serie A season, underlining the faith the 50-year-old Italian has in the Uruguayan youngster.
Because while the initial idea was to send Bentancur out on loan to a lower-ranked Serie A side, the current situation couldn’t be more different as the midfielder has featured in four of Juventus’ six games this season, including two starts.
The first of those two surprise opportunities came at the Camp Nou when Juve faced Barcelona in the Champions League group stages. La Vecchia Signora lost the game 3-0 with Bentancur neither impressing nor looking out of place. The fact that Bentancur was allowed to make his first start for Juventus at the Camp Nou speaks volumes of how highly Allegri thinks of him and his performance in Catalunya didn’t tarnish Allegri’s faith in the 20-year-old as he was given another start in the Serie A game vs. Fiorentina last Wednesday.
In the Juventus stadium, Bentancur formed a doble-cinco with Frenchman Blaise Matuidi and was one of Juve’s best players in a 1-0 win. Highly reputable Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport were full of praise of Bentancur, saying that he is “the most underestimated market coup of the whole summer, in terms of price-quality”.
Buffon on Bentancur:
"Bentancur has something different to everyone else. He's reliable tactically, technically and psychologically". pic.twitter.com/zg5x2GF2TT
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) September 20, 2017
Gazzetta continued, “What has already emerged is his extraordinary talent to handle the ball, treating it like water in the desert. It is rare to see a 20-year-old boy with his personality. Bentancur wants the ball at his feet and is always ready to start to move from box to box”.
Gazzetta concluded by saying, “The integrity of his repertoire makes him adaptable to almost every role in midfield”. It’s fair to say that Bentancur has impressed in Italy so far. And while the quality the Uruguayan possesses makes him capable of doing that, not everyone had foreseen the instant impact he has made. At Boca – the club he had played for from 2015 and left last summer for €9.5M to pursue his European dream at Juventus – El Lolo never was undoubted but he always divided opinion among the Boca fanbase.
His track record in big games, most notably in the Superclásico against River Plate, was very good but consistency has always been a stumbling block. Even within games, Bentancur could have a bright start but then suddenly switch off and find himself constantly catching up. It’s a big flaw to his game and in his position – central midfield – it can have serious effects.
However, Bentancur is only 20 and looks to have already made progression in that area during his short time in Turin. The manager and especially the world-class players surrounding him will help him develop as a footballer and if he can reach his potential, both Uruguay and Juventus will have a very, very special player on their hands.
Bentancur was part of Uruguay’s U20 World Cup squad that finished fourth in South Korea and has been called-up to the senior side’s preliminary squad for the World Cup qualifiers in October. It is a sign that Bentancur is on the right track.