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Juan Manuel Iturbe opts for Argentina

24th February, 2011

Juan Manuel Iturbe, one of the stars of the recent South American Under-20 Championship and the young man whose low centre of gravity, breathtaking pace, exceptional close control, and luscious left foot have already seen him dubbed the “Guarani Messi”, has made clear his desire to pledge his international future to Argentina, the land of his birth but not his upbringing.

Iturbe was born in Buenos Aires to Paraguayan parents. His parents subsequently moved to Asunción, taking their young son with them. He went on to join local club Cerro Porteño, moving up through the ranks. His talent did not go unnoticed; he was soon drafted into the Paraguayan youth setup, even going on to make his senior debut in 2009, against Chile.

Though his future with Paraguay looked bright, a rupture with Cerro Porteño in March, 2010 gave Argentina the opportunity to invite Iturbe, who had been sidelined by his club, to train with their under-20 team. Argentina went so far as to take the rising star to last year’s World Cup as a sparring partner for the senior squad. He went on to shine for albiceleste at the South American Youth Championship, conjuring up goals like this one against eventual winners Brazil, and, perhaps just to prove that he can strike the ball accurately with both feet, this one against Chile.

After much speculation about his future, a deal was revealed to have been brokered with FC Porto, though, as international transfers of minors are prohibited, Iturbe will remain with Cerro Porteño until his 18th birthday on the 4th of June. Whether or not he lives up to his billing only time will tell, but it looks as though Paraguay may have lost a player of exceptional talent.

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