More column inches have been devoted to Sebastian Giovinco not playing for Juventus than in review his performances for Turin's Old Lady. A succession of coaches have arrived at the club during the Atomic Ant 's fledgling career—all have left without seemingly giving him any serious playing time.
First promoted to the full squad during the season spent in Serie B, he managed only three league games under then-coach Didier Deschamps. The obvious presence of Pavel Nedved restricted his chances, although when the Czech did miss games, Raffaele Palladino was used instead.
He made his debut that season against Bologna, setting up a goal with a neat pass, and was tipped to be a star. With chances at Juventus limited, he was sent on loan to Empoli, where again he made a great impression, scoring a fantastic free-kick against Roma and putting in a number of good displays.
Following Empoli's relegation he returned to Juve, by this time coached by Claudio Ranieri. He made a good start, and had memorable games against Bologna and Chelsea in the Champions League. Yet despite constantly impressing, he still remained a sporadically used substitute.
Then last season Ciro Ferrara took charge of the club, prompting a shift to a system using a natural trequartista and the club invested heavily in Diego. Ferrara publicly promised that Giovinco would be the back-up for the Brazilian in his most natural position and everyone was happy.
His chance came early in the season, after an injury to Diego, and generally he did well. He also was very impressive when fielded alongside the Brazilian in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but that didn't last either and he was back to the bench once more.
Then came Alberto Zaccheroni, who seemingly changed formation and personnel on a weekly basis yet still found no place for Giovinco, preferring Antonio Candreva who came in on loan. When he did get chances, once again he impressed, turning at least two games in Juve's favour after his introduction. His season was then curtailed by injury.
While it is perfectly normal for young players to struggle to find space at a big club, Giovinco has played in 37 games across the three seasons he has spent in Turin, so roughly a third of those played in total. He has scored goals, made great assists and changed games. He also proved at Empoli that he is capable of playing in Serie A every week.
It is very easy to make plausible excuses and find reasons why each coach hasn't used him more. Deschamps had Nedved, as did Ranieri. Ferrara was a young coach finding his way while Zaccheroni's whole tenure was a disaster.
Yet does this mask another issue? Is there a reason why four very different coaches overlooked the ability of the player? When they did turn to him he usually delivered, yes sometimes he is inconsistent but what young player isn't?
The Bianconeri fans love him, that much is clear. Despite his admission to being a Milan fan, and his family being from the most southern parts of Italy, he is most definitely seen as "one of us" by those in the stands.
Other reasons often given are his youth—yet Claudio Marchisio and Paolo De Ceglie are roughly the same age—and his lack of size, yet Del Piero isn't much bigger. The man in his immediate path, Diego, is also only slightly older and not much taller.
Now 23, he seems destined to move away again, either on loan or a co-ownership deal. But the list of clubs interested in gaining his services is hardly inspiring either—Bari, Parma, Brescia, and Udinese seem to be the only ones.
For a player often mentioned alongside Mario Balotelli as "the future of Italian football," it is strange that while one plays in Champions League finals the other looks set for another relegation battle. He seems to carry none of the personality issues that blight his Under-21 teammate, which makes the stalling of his career even more bizarre.
Perhaps it is simply Juventus with the problem; after all, the same treatment befell Fabrizio Micolli who has now found a home in Sicily with Palermo. Does Sebastian Giovinco now face the same trip round Italy in search of a place to call home?
This article first appeared at Il Tifosi