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FLASHBACK: When Bolton Almost Signed Juan Iturbe

What might have been, eh Owen?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Manuel Iturbe Arévalos (born 4 June 1993) is an Argentine footballer who plays as a forward for A.S. Roma in Serie A. His career, which began at Cerro Porteño in 2008, taking in a side trip to Porto, River Plate and Hellas Verona, has been on the up and up ever since the lad turned pro.

However, he probably sits there in his massive Roman villa, overlooking the ancient city with it's centuries old architecture, and thinks "What might have been?".

In January of 2009, Bolton Wanderers and manager Owen Coyle went shopping. The club was in freefall, with Coyle having just taken over from Gary Megson who had left the club in tatters. Coyle arrived in controversial circumstances from local rivals Burnley, and immediately promised to sweep away the cobwebs of Megson's reign, and bring in a more liberated and attacking style of play - one which he had made his name whilst leading the Clarets from Division One to the Premier League.

Having quickly assessed his talented but underperforming squad, a midfield containing the likes of Fabrice Muamba, Stuart Holden and Matthew Taylor was undoubtedly hard-working, but lacking in attacking flair.

The very day after Coyle's arrival, articles started to appear in the national press - such as this, from the Mirror:

Bolton boss Owen Coyle is making a daring bid to sign Juan Manuel Iturbe - an Argentinian teenage sensation who has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi.

Coyle has approached Portuguese giants Porto to ask if he can take the 18-year-old attacker on loan, in a deal with echoes of his previous swoops to borrow Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge.

That's when the trail went quiet, until the days approaching the end of the transfer window, when the story resurfaced:

Bolton boss Owen Coyle's hopes of a daring raid for Porto superstarlet Juan Iturbe are being raised - his dad is pushing him to go out on loan.

The teenage Argentinian attacker - who's been hailed as the new Lionel Messi - is not getting much action for the Portuguese club but is attracting massive interest from other clubs.

Bolton want him for the rest of the season and have been told they will be kept informed.

Now, Iturbe's father, Juan, has confirmed he is on the lookout for a way to get his lad some first-team football.

The 5ft 6in attacking midfielder was clearly on Coyle's hitlist, and the club made an enquiry to Porto who, despite rating Iturbe as one of the top talents in European football, had rewarded his progress with just 15 minutes of first-team football in his first season.

Sadly, much to Wanderers and Coyle's chagrin, Porto chose to loan Iturbe back to his native Argentina with the famous River Plate club, where he went on to make 17 appearances, scoring three times and in the progress regaining some of the mojo lost at Porto.

Iturbe then left the Portuguese giants, joining newly promoted Serie A club Hellas Verona on loan in time for the 2013/14 season. After a successful league campa following a return of 8 goals in 33 games.

However, he did not hang around for too long, moving on again shortly after, rejecting Juventus and instead signing for Roma for €22 million with performance-based add-ons up to €2.5 million. The player signed a five-year contract, ending on 30 June 2019.

What might have been eh?