How Cristhian Stuani went from Middlesbrough reject to Girona hero
In 2015 Cristhian Stuani chose to hone his craft in English football. Championship side Middlesbrough had approached Espanyol for his services. A year later his time Teesside had become a frustrating experience. He fled back to La Liga, tail between legs. There’s a different story to tell today. Girona's no.7 has seen his career take flight.
Over 15 years the globe-trotting striker has plundered goals on two continents and in four countries. He’s pulled on jerseys for ten clubs. His resume includes teams like Reggina, Levante, and Racing Santander. Oh, and Boro.
Stuani was Middlesbrough’s bargain buy in 2015. The player needed convincing to join. He had scored double figures in La Liga, helping the Periquitos remain in the top flight. Moving from La Liga to the Championship downgraded his status but it turned out to be a step the forward was willing to take.
At Boro, his job was in principle simple. He was required to score goals. Stuani did his bit in the Championship. He scored 11 times, one a decisive strike against Brighton that secured Premier League promotion. Stuani finished the season as Boro’s top marksman.
The Premier League proved to be a step too far for both player and club. The North-East outfit failed to spark. The goals didn't come. Manager Aitor Karanka lost his job and Stuani his place as a first-team regular. By the end of the 2016-17 season the well-travelled hitman had only contributed five goals. It was time to pack his bags again.
New boss Garry Monk sanctioned his transfer. No English sides were interested given the Uruguayan was now on the wrong side of 30. Girona came to Stuani’s rescue. The La Liga debutantes needed a capable finisher if they were to have any hope of staying in the Primera Division. The Uruguayan repaid their faith. His 17 goals this term trail only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez in the race for the Pichichi.
Pablo Machin sets up his Girona team in a 3-4-2-1. Stuani is the focal point. The 31-year-old has maximized the service he receives in that system. Goals have come in big moments too. Stuani has scored three goals in two outings against Real Madrid. He bagged a brace in Girona’s 6-3 defeat at the Bernabeu. Not many visiting players enjoy such success.
Machin has transformed Stuani into a goal machine. The former Levante loanee has been restored as a killer predator in the box. His improved awareness, agility, tenacity, pace, and conversion rate have resulted in more goals in one season at the Estadi Montilivi than in two at the Riverside.
Before moving to Girona Stuani stood no chance of making Uruguay’s World Cup squad. Now it will be grossly unfair and foolhardy for Oscar Tabarez to overlook a player who is enjoying his most prolific top-flight season.
No one is saying Stuani is Robert Lewandowski or Harry Kane. For Girona however he’s been a hero. The Catalan outfit is pushing Sevilla all the way for a place in Europe and it's down to the Uruguayan.