Echoes of Sebastian Abreu as Juan Manuel Iturbe makes his 10th move

Last week veteran Uruguayan centre-forward Sebastian Abreu was proudly presented at his latest club -- Bangu, a small but traditional outfit on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

The move to Brazil is the 28th of his career, which has taken him to a total of 23 clubs in nine countries. At the age of 40, this will surely be one of his last moves.

But even as Abreu trades El Salvador for Brazil, a player is emerging in Italy who could end up challenging Abreu's statistics. Paraguayan striker Juan Manuel Iturbe moved from Roma to Torino on loan this week. This is his eighth club -- his 10th move -- in five different countries. And he is only 23. There is plenty of time ahead for him to add to his numbers.

They are dissimilar figures -- Abreu a giant target man and Iturbe a quick, little support striker -- and for all the likeness, there are huge differences in their career paths.

Abreu has always been something of a happy wanderer. He slots in easily, establishes himself as a fan favourite, forms an identification with the club but usually seems content to move on.

Iturbe is something else, a footballing prodigy in the age of the "wonderkid," a hot commodity expected to tip the balance at the highest level, and perhaps cursed by such expectations.

He was seen as a future great at the age of 16 -- so much that he found himself caught up in a tug of war between two countries.

With his little, stocky build and sharp dribbling skills he was the "Paraguayan Messi." But he had been born in Argentina. His parents were two of the many Paraguayan immigrants to seek work in Argentina. But soon after their son arrived they moved back home.

Iturbe first played senior football for Cerro Porteno, Paraguay's most popular club, and the Paraguayan national team tried to put its brand on him when they brought him on in the second half of a game against Chile in November 2009, when he was just 16.

But as the game was just a friendly, it was not binding. At the start of 2011 he was in action for Argentina's under-20s. He was also based in Argentina with the Quilmes club, though contractual problems stopped him taking the field.

The newly declared Argentine then went back to Cerro Porteno, where he starred in the club's run to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores. Europe obviously beckoned -- he went to Porto, so often spotters of up and coming South American talent. Here, though, he suffered his first knock back. He was soon dropped to the B side, and then loaned to Argentine giants River Plate. But he did so well at his next port of call, Hellas Verona in Italy, that talk of a wonderkid was resurrected, and Roma made him a big-money signing.

The failure to set Rome alight was his second knock back, followed by a third when a loan to Bournemouth in 2016 was not a success. He was almost immediately deemed surplus to Premier League requirements -- and it was at this point that Iturbe decided he was Paraguayan after all.

A cynic might suggest a recognition that he was unlikely to get a game for Argentina. A more charitable view would be that he had had every right to be confused about his identity, as a player and a person. From adolescence to young adulthood he had been treated as a commodity. Living in five countries in five years would inevitably have an unsettling effect on someone of that age. If Abreu was the happy wanderer, then Iturbe is the accidental tourist, his suitcase weighed down by those early comparisons with Lionel Messi.

There is now no chance that he will line up with Messi in an Argentina shirt. Iturbe has now featured for Paraguay in World Cup qualification and the Copa Centenario.

Perhaps they can meet in opposing sides in next year's Champions League. Iturbe has just joined Torino, club number eight. He needs to collect another 15 to equal Abreu, and it would be nice to think that he will not get close -- a period of stability would surely be the best way to unlock his undoubted talent.