Pictures of Mauricio Isla in a Juventus jersey are a little hard to come by right now. To put it into context, around this time last season, Eljero Elia had about the same amount of options. That basically means I can count on two hands how many pictures of Isla we get to use.
Considering Antonio Conte probably doesn't care about the number of pictures SBN has available of his players — although maybe he should since I'm still waiting for Sebastian Giovinco standing next to a bunch of tall dudes — we'll look at something else when it comes to Isla and Juventus.
Like, say, how little he has played since arriving in Turin.
The last time Isla was on the field was two weeks ago against Chievo. He played all of one minute. No, seriously. Isla was an 89th-minute substitute for Alessandro Matri as Juventus looked to lock things lock up three points in Verona. Before that, Isla last appeared in Juve's 4-0 drubbing of Udinese on Jan. 4. Was it much of an improvement on playing time? If you consider seven minutes on the field a vast improvement, then yes there was.
Isla's last start? The Nov. 25 1-0 loss to Milan. That was nearly three months ago. In that time, Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic have missed 500 chances in front of goal, give or take a couple (numbers still to be confirmed). That's a long time to basically sit on the bench every game and do a whole lot of nothing.
Obviously some of that has to do with Stephan Lichtsteiner's performances over the last couple of months. Some of it had to with the ongoing rehab and slow re-introduction to training after the knee injury Isla suffered in the middle of February 2012 while he was with Udinese.
But some of it, though, just make you scratch your head.
No, Isla hasn't been at his best this season. Not even close to it, really. He hasn't been close to the player we saw the last few years when he was Udinese. But that was somewhat expected considering Isla was coming off the aforementioned knee injury. And that makes sense. Of all leg injuries, it's those like Isla suffered that not only take the longest to recover from, but the longest to really get going form-wise again.
Yet here we are in the middle of February and Isla has only appeared in 10 matches — total. All competitions. All of them.
If you were to tell me before the season even started that at this time in the year Isla would've only appeared that number of matches, I probably would've had a good chuckle. If you would've told me he'd have all of eight minutes of game action in the calendar year of 2013, the chuckle might have turned into a full on laugh.
It's just one of those things that makes you wonder what is really going on. He's had a bit of a fitness problem when he returned from international duty, but since he was included in the squad for the Roma match this past weekend, I'm going to assume he's okay physically. And if it's something else that's causing somebody like Simone Padoin to get more playing time than Isla, we certainly haven't heard about it.
Who knows. It's just odd that Juventus shelled out a good chunk of change for co-ownership and have yet to really give the player a chance to show he can get back to being the Isla of old.
At least give him an opportunity to get his WhoScored season rating above the ghost of Nicklas Bendtner, right?