It is finally done, officially official, finito. Eljero Elia is a Juventus player, coming over from Hamburg for a fee of €10 million (€1.3m/year for 4 years).
While not as big as the Cesc and Nasri transfer sagas, this was definitely the most drawn out journey for Marotta this summer. The target? A young, Dutch left winger playing for a not-so-exciting team in the very-much-thrilling German Bundesliga.
I shall honor this club's history by signing the
contract in a ridiculously juvenile t-shirt.
Juventus has undoubtedly needed an actual left winger the last 2 years, ever since Pavel Nedved retired. Ironically, on his birthday (buon compleanno Pavel!), a promising signing arrives in Turin and puts pen to paper, albeit hesitantly, to don the Juve shirt as soon as the player's strike is over in Serie A.
You'd think us Juve fans will be bathing in champagne right about now. We have a young, speedy winger with lots of upside that in today's inflated market didn't cost a ton of money (especially since Hamburg paid €8.5m for him). He is not world class by any means, but the 2009 Dutch Football Talent of the Year should blow the likes of Pepe, Giaccherini, Martinez, and the ill-suited Marchisio straight out the water. Something doesn't feel 100% right though. It's as we forced Elia to sign with us only because he had no other options.
Many have said this, and I actually believe it - Eljero Elia was never excited to play for Juventus. Up until yesterday, Hamburg and Juventus were on equal grounds in his eyes and he enjoyed playing in the Bundesliga. Coming over to an Italian team that is unlikely to fight for any honors this year was simply not enticing to him.
Instead, Elia preferred a move to England. I do not blame him - everyone and their mother is trying to play in England right now (unless Barcelona is calling), so him and his agent continued to make comments that will hopefully bring him closer to the EPL. There were rumors that Liverpool and Arsenal were interested, but no one came knocking.
Then there were the denials/retractions - Elia never said anything negative about Juventus, it was just the German media making stuff up. Next Elia used his Facebook page to deny any bad Juventus comments. Then people were saying he simply doesn't like Italy because of racial abuse by the fans. Rumors, rumors, rumors. 24 hours later, he is a Juventus player.
Elia on his way to Turin on a private jet,
checking the papers for any Arsenal bids.
So what the hell happened? Only few actually know, though I'm convinced we were Elia's last resort. I believe he made those comments about not wanting to play at Juventus and then had to retract/deny once his agent told him it could hurt his chances of getting signed anywhere. I believe he desperately wanted to play for Arsenal, with some rumors even saying Arsenal made a €9m bid that Hamburg rejected cause they wanted €10m (yeah, right). He has every right to be concerned about racial abuse in Italy, but Juventus fans have been very welcoming to players of African descent in recent years.
Whatever the case may be, Elia is a Juve player. He will wear the number 11 jersey (thanks to Adam for the note) and will likely play on the left flank. He is naturally a right-footed player, so expect him to act more as a Robben-winger - cutting inside looking for through balls or curling balls in the far corner. He can also hit it with power, and enjoys beating his defender when entering the box.
Last but not least, he can play as an attacking midfielder, maybe even a second striker. All in all, a useful, versatile player that if motivated, focused, and willing, can really complete our attacking play in the final third.
Call me a skeptic, but that is one big if.