Rodrigo Bentancur is a recurrent name associated with Juventus right now. It’s expected that the talented Uruguayan teenager will arrive in Turin at some point this year. Without a doubt, he’s a rising star in the Argentinian championship, and it seems like Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta believes that the kid is special. However, Bentancur, 19, is still considered a gamble for the future.
Let’s take a look at the young Xeneize prospect.
Bentancur was 12 years old when he arrived at Boca. Since then, he made swift progress inside the team ranks. Rodrigo debuted with Boca’s first team in 2015 when he was 17. Months later, he became an undisputed starter. This current season, Bentancur has played in 10 matches with Boca, hasn’t scored a goal, and has two assists. Albeit these numbers don’t look impressive, his quality on the pitch has been notable. The kid is a technician, he has a natural intuition to win balls in the midfield and possesses great personality and vision.
Boca Juniors legend, Juan Román Riquelme, claimed that he hadn't seen many players with Bentancur’s passing skills before. He added that there’s always a growing sensation that something important could happen every time Bentancur has the ball. Rodrigo’s former coach, Rodolfo Arruabarrena, considered him a once-in-a-thousand talent. In the same way, the specialized press has compared the Uruguayan with Riquelme, Éver Banega and Javier Pastore. Ironically, Bentancur doesn’t consider himself a trequartista. He previously said: “I’m an eight. I’m neither a defensive midfielder nor an enganche. I’m more of a (Fernando) Gago than a Riquelme.”
Clearly, the kid loves to perform as a mixed midfielder. In fact, he only has played as a traditional offensive midfielder in one game this season.
Boca Juniors began the 2016-17 season playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Bentancur started playing as a double-five next to the veteran Pablo Perez. Thanks to his ability, he was considered Boca’s natural regista. Nonetheless, Bentancur suffered some growing pains, and the Argentinian press started to criticize him early and often. Luckily, Xeneize’s icon, Fernando Gago, returned from a hard injury, which allowed Boca Juniors’ coach, Guillermo Barros Schelotto to switch to a 4-3-1-2 configuration. Bentancur shifted to the left midfielder position. This change allowed Fernando Gago and Carlos Tevez to take most of the playmaking duties. Betancur improved after the switch. He had fewer responsibilities and learned behind the veteran stars. Right now, Bentancur is leading Uruguay national team during the CONMEBOL sub-20 championship.
Bentancur has had painful experiences in Argentina. On Sept. 6, 2015, he started as the attacking midfielder of Boca Juniors in an important match against San Lorenzo de Almagro. Boca and San Lorenzo were fighting for the first place at that time. The match went into extra time tied without any goals scored, when Bentancur took the ball just in front Boca’s defense. He tried to pass the ball back to a defender, but San Lorenzo striker Mauro Matos cleverly intercepted the attempt and scored easily beating the goalkeeper Agustin Orion. The game ended with a San Lorenzo victory, and Bentancur left the stadium in tears.
However, the wonderkid bounced back from the mistake. He helped Boca beat River Plate in the very next game. He gained the praise of current and former players for his efforts. A month later, Boca won the Argentinian championship. The youngster showcased great resilience in that moment of crisis.
Bentancur has been under constant scrutiny of the fans and the press. Before Juventus, he had been linked with moves to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Milan. Those rumors put him in the international spotlight, which could be hard to handle for a 19- year-old player. The pressure led Bentancur to declare: “if Messi is questioned, why they (the press) won’t question me.” Some members of the media took that declaration as a sign of arrogance. They thought that the youngster was comparing himself with the Barcelona superstar directly. Right now, there are reports which claim that Bentancur wants to earn €2 million annually. That's a high number for a youngster who hasn't played a minute in Serie A. For example, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was earning €850,000 before extending his contract late last year. Croatian speedster Marko Pjaca is making €1.2 million right now. They could be considered in the same tier (or above) of Bentancur.
Bentancur has the talent to become a Juventus regular. He can benefit from playing alongside Claudio Marchisio, Miralem Pjanic, and Sami Khedira. I firmly believe that the Uruguayan has the physical attributes and technical skills to make an impact. However, Rodrigo must know that he would arrive in the big leagues. A lot of players have failed in their quest to success. If he plays his cards correctly, he can reach Vinovo in a moment of need. Also, he can challenge Stefano Sturaro, Mario Lemina, and Hernanes from the get-go. Humility and patience are the keywords for Bentancur.
Max Allegri likes to grow his young players slowly. For now, he’s not at the same level of the other Juventus starters. Hopefully, he will be part of a strong generation of bianconeri that includes Rugani, Dybala, Pjaca, Mandragora, Orsolini, Kean, and Caldara that will take Europe by storm.