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Frank Lopapa On January - 26 - 2012

Player Profile: Martin Caceres Returns to Juventus

After weeks of rumours and hand-wringing negotiations, Martin Caceres finally returns to Juventus from Sevilla  on loan for the rest of the season. Juventus will initially pay €1.5 million and an additional €8 million in the summer to make the move permanent. The Uruguayan defender was already once on the books for Juventus during the disastrous 2009-10 season on loan from Barcelona; however, due to injuries and a high permanent transfer fee, he returned to Spain and eventually signed on loan with Sevilla before the Andalusian club bought him permanently for €3 million last summer. After an excellent start to the season and reiterating his desire to come back to Turin, it seemed that Martin would eventually return if an agreement were to be reached between the two clubs.

The Uruguayan started his career at Defensor Sporting and soon was bought by Villarreal in 2007 after impressing during the South American Youth Championship, helping Uruguay qualify for that summer’s U-20 World Cup. After shining on loan with Recreativo during the 2007-08 season, Barcelona swooped in and purchased Caceres for €16.5 million, including a reported €50 million buyout clause in his contract. Rarely featuring for the Catalans in his debut season, Caceres was loaned out to Juventus in August 2009.

There are many Juventini out there welcoming this transfer, with his first season in black and white still fresh in the collective memory. Although he only played in a total of twenty-one matches during his first tour with Juventus, Caceres was one of the few bright spots during one of the most disappointing and dismal seasons in the club’s history. His first, and only, goal for Juventus came early in the league game against Lazio, with an extremely well-taken half-volley inside the area. On a team that appeared to lack mental strength and energy, Caceres possessed both in spades playing as a right back, showing off a high work rate and that famous Uruguayan garra, a characteristic which occasionally caused him to be too rash in his decision making. Considering the only other right back the team had at the time was one Jonathan Zebina, it is no wonder so many Juventus supporters were sad to see Caceres’ option not picked up.

Upon returning to Spain, Caceres continued to develop as a player, looking very solid during the past season and a half with Sevilla as well as on international duty with Uruguay. The 24-year-old has played an important role in one of the most successful Uruguayan sides in recent memory, finishing fourth at the World Cup in 2010 and winning the Copa America the following year. Originally starting out as a center back, Caceres has in recent seasons played primarily out wide on the right, but can also play on the left as he has done on occasion for la Celeste.

So what will Caceres offer now as compared to his previous season with Juventus? Most importantly, he will provide versatility and depth to a defense that is lacking in both. Martin has the ability to play across the backline, which for Antonio Conte will be of great use, especially with the prospect of continental football next season. He can back up Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right, provide cover in the center, and compete for a starting spot at left back, a position that has been rotated between center back Giorgio Chiellini and Paolo De Ceglie. Caceres is a player in his manager’s image: energetic, hardworking, and certainly not lacking what the Italians call ‘grinta’. He is a versatile player continuing to grow and at only 24, has yet to reach his peak. Hopefully this time, Caceres’ career at Juventus will last much longer than the first time around.

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