If first impressions could determine how a player's career with a certain team may go, Eljero Elia probably wants to re-think the weeks leading up to and after his arrival at Juventus.
The day he signed for Juve, Elia looked more like he was headed to the Torino bar scene than somebody signing with one of the most historic football clubs in the world. You know, that picture. It wasn't exactly the worst — nor the best — thing he could have done, especially considering he had said some not-so-nice things about the club just a few weeks earlier.
But when you play in a total of four Serie A games, there isn't exactly a whole lot to remember about the 2011-12 season that Elia had with Juventus. I mean, he played a total of 110 minutes this past season with Juve. Going by minutes alone, Fabio Grosso saw more action than Elia did last season. What does that say?
The answer: /headdesk
And that, in total, is the summary of Eljero Elia's career with Italy's Old Lady. Goodnight, everybody! It's been fun while it lasted. We'll see you next time!
Well, maybe there's a little more to say about this subject than just that.
Elia's signing made sense. Sure, the formatin Antonio Conte was going to roll with when the season began — 4-4-2/4-2-4 or 4-3-3 — mattered, but the young Dutchman's presence looked like it would be taken advantage of after he was signed from Hamburg on Deadline Day for €10 million. I mean, Conte wanted to play an attacking style of ball and Juventus finally had an attacking winger on the left who didn't rock the blonde lox of love.
But as the weeks went by, he didn't play. The "Elia's only being left out because he's still learning the system" reasoning could only be held onto and deemed as an acceptable answer for so long. We all thought he'd get the chance, but it never came. Even sitting on the bench became an accomplishment
So the question becomes, "Why?"
Or, as we sit here nearly 11 months after he was brought to Juventus, why did he play just 110 minutes in bianconero than you and I did?
He faced some difficulties in getting familiar with the Italian championship and with the new reality. Many times Conte focused the attention on how it could be difficult for a foreign lad — who doesn't speak the language of the country where he plays — to get familiar with the Italian football, which has different pace and pressures.
That quote is straight from Juventus' official website as they went through the roster and celebrated the Scudetto. Was it a contributing factor? Sure, we can believe it if we want to. But there's certainly more to it than just "Hey, Elia couldn't speak a lick of Italian so he's not going to fit in with the team."
I mean, I'm not going to sit here and pontificate about how he didn't work his tail off in training like other players or anything like that. For one, I never once watched a training session at Vinovo, so to claim things I didn't see with my own two eyes is somewhat idiotic to begin with. On top of that, if Elia was a guy who basically chose to not try at all after he wasn't selected by Conte after a few months, you know we would have heard about it. I mean, it's Italy and the media there is, well, basically drooling for some kind of controversy.
No matter what it was, though, Elia's mark on Juventus will be more for what he didn't do rather than contributing to a Scudetto-winning team. But hey, at least he got a medal and made €1.5 million in salary, right? So there's that, which is nice.
Now it's off to Werder Bremen where Elia will try to resurrect his career. It might just be a hunch on my part, but I think he'll eclipse the 110 minutes played mark rather easily.