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Explaining the strange beauty of Stephan Lichtsteiner

Valerio Pennicino

Back on the first week of October, Juventus trotted out a nice little photo gallery containing pictures from the first couple months of the season. Some of these snaps were from the preseason tour of Asia and Australia, others were from Juventus' first couple rounds of games both domestically and in Europe.

One of those pictures was from one of Juventus first games of the season. It was of the back of Stephan Lichtsteiner's jersey. Beautifully captured wasn't just the fact that there was mud and grass stains all over his back, but, for whatever reason, the first two letters of his last name were seemingly hanging there by a thread.

It was a perfect representation of Lichtsteiner the player as well as Lichtsteiner's on-field personality. Does he care that his jersey is falling apart? Nope, we're just gonna keep on playing.That's just one of the many things that makes Lichtsteiner such an original. There's also stuff like this after he gets subbed off in the second half a of a game against his former club:

lichtsteiner being lichtsteiner

Or maybe it's this one from the same game:

Lichsteiner bow

Stephan Lichtsteiner is, in every sense of the phrase, one of a kind. He's a former Lazio player who, much like a certain Czech winger by the name Pavel Nedved, has become one of the most beloved Juventus players currently on the roster because of how he's made people forget about the fact he used to wear a sky blue jersey. He walks to the beat of his own drum. It's not even close to being a bad thing — unless you root for Juventus' opponent that day. But there are few players who can say they're even close to being like what we see from Lichtsteiner on a game-by-game basis.

If there was ever a way to show what Lichtsteiner is all about, what is shown above is pretty much the nuts and bolts of what we're here to talk about. There's playing with intensity, and then there's what Lichtsteiner does. He disagrees with refs — sometimes getting so close to their face he can see if they shaved that morning while also letting them know in a variety of languages how he feels about the call they just made.

And thus, that is the beauty of our Lichtsteiner — even if some of it is just brute strength with a side of being a pain in the ass and nothing more than that. He's the kind of guy you love to have on your team, but that you absolutely despise if he's lining up across from you. He's not a pest. He surpassed that years ago. He's just a total pain in the ass to play against.

I don't know what gave me this idea, but it seems like it's the common line of thinking.

That — and everything else he does on the field — is Lichtsteiner, and it will forever be Lichtsteiner. As good of a player he is, he's just that much more interesting because of what he his mindset on the field is. He's part tank, part heat-seeking missile looking to destroy everything within his sight.

But, as much as watching him get in the face of opponents is entertaining, there's his actual production to concentrate on, too. You know, the real reason why Juventus gives a paycheck every week.

Who had the most assists in Serie A play for Juventus last season? It wasn't Paul Pogba. It wasn't Andrea Pirlo. It wasn't Carlos Tévez, Fernando Llorente or Arturo Vidal. Nope, it was Lichtsteiner, who finished with eight assists last season. It placed him in the top five in all of Serie A. He was the only defender to be on that list, which also consisted of summer signing Romulo.

Lichtsteiner has followed that up with four assists — including two really good ones in Juve's 7-0 dismantling against Parma this past weekend — in 11 domestic games this season. So when we hear about the ongoing contract talks between the Juventus management and Lichtsteiner, one thing pops into my head: SIGN HIM NOW. Sign him right now and don't look back.

Think of it this way: The right back position was such a black hole at Juventus for years before Lichtsteiner signed fromLazio in the summer of 2011. And now, Lichtsteiner has brought such a level of stability — along with the most diverse array of facial expressions in all of Italy.

At this point, it's pretty hard to envision a Juventus squad without Lichtsteiner next season. And it's hard to envision Juventus without Lichtsteiner for the next couple of seasons, to be honest. He's damn good at what he does — and not just because he is one of the many reasons why gifs are such a wonderful creation.