On January 3rd, Tomas Rincon made history for Juventus without even touching a ball.
The 29-year-old became the first Venezuelan signing after the Bianconeri opted to spent a reported €8 million to bring him in from Genoa on a three-and-a-half year deal. For many, the deal seemed to come out of nowhere. Rincon had first emerged on the Serie A radar after arriving at the Grifone on a free transfer during the summer 2014 transfer market. During his two-and-a-half-years at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, he made over 80 appearances across all competitions, whilst scoring three goals.
Solid, but certainly not spectacular. Rincon also spent five seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburg, which was his first foray into European football. Currently the captain of the Venezuelan national side, he has been a full international since 2008, and has gone on to earn 80 caps for La Vinotinto.
However, what exactly can he offer to Juventus? For starters, the Bianconeri are not just looking to make it an unprecedented sixth straight Scudetto – although, of course, that is on the agenda. They are seeking to finally re-establish themselves among Europe’s elite. And the only way to do this, of course, is to get their hands on the Champions League trophy – which has eluded them for over two decades.
Rincon is certainly available for both of these ventures, especially considering that Genoa weren’t even competing in the Europa League this season. But solid – and not spectacular – as noted earlier is exactly what he offers. And that is exactly what Juventus need. La Vecchia Signora’s primary target was Belgian international Axel Witsel, whom they attempted to sign last summer, only for Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg to throw a monkey wrench in those plans at literally the last minute.
The Bianconeri made a second attempt this winter, except this time, it wasn’t the Russians who got in their way. It was the Chinese, in the form of Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Quanjian. And as we all know, money talks. With the Witsel option now sailed, the club’s hierarchy clearly still felt they needed some midfield reinforcements as they are still fully involved in three competitions.
So, what does new man Rincon bring? For one, versatility. He can be deployed as a midfielder to provide cover for any of Juve’s already established midfield options to freshen things up or provide relief as the campaign progresses, but in addition to this, can also deputize at right-back. Secondly, near the end of 2015, which was in his second season in Serie A, Genoa were languishing near the bottom of the table – yet he had already attempted the highest number of successful passes (over 700), completed the most tackles (30) as well as completed 35 take-ons.
This season, he has created 19 scoring opportunities for the Grifone, which is yet another testament to his overall versatility and skill-set outside what is expected of a stereotypical destroyer in the center of the park. Not a bad output for someone who is largely going to be used as a back-up for his current club as they aim to remain competitive on all three fronts.
All in all, Rincon is certainly not going to set the pitch alight. That’s not his job. But based on his past stats and overall showings for Genoa, who have had their share of ups and downs over the past few seasons, the Bianconeri, who are becoming well known for some of their smart dealings, just may have got themselves a bargain this winter.
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