Sergio Reguilon is a Spanish international left-back about to sign for Tottenham from Real Madrid for a fee or around £27.5million.
The 23-year-old won the Europa League with Sevilla in 2019/20 during a year-long loan spell under Jolen Lopetegui, who gave the defender his debut for the Real Madrid first team the season previous, but is considered behind Marcelo and Ferland Mendy for a starting position by Zinedine Zidane. He is effectively a third-choice defender, so why is Reguilon worth so much money?
What sort of player is Reguilon?
Reguilon is an attacking full-back who spends most of his time in the opposition half, regularly taking on opposition defenders and beating them with skill or a burst of acceleration.
His statistics from the 19/20 La Liga season paint the picture of a defender who likes to dribble, with Reguilon making 1.84 tackles per game and attempting 2.61 dribbles per game. For context, Jordi Alba, the flying Barcelona left-back only made 0.74 tackles per game and 0.81 dribbles per game. Both take up similar positions on the pitch, but while Alba likes to beat the offside trap and turn up unannounced in behind the opposition defence, Reguilon is more likely to take a defender on and deliver a cross for his teammates.
This attacking mentality meant Reguilon was able to provide four assists and score twice in La Liga, and register one goal and one assist in Sevilla's triumphant Europa League campaign, with Reguilon one of the outstanding performers in the final. He was so good against Manchester United in the semi-final that BT Sport made a highlights video of just his contributions to the match:
Where will Reguilon play?
Reguilon will take Ben Davies' place on the Spurs left, a swap which might change how Jose Mourinho's side plays and looks in the final third.
The Welshman didn't play enough last season to warrant inclusion in our 2019/20 player ranker tool but his statistical output in the 2018/19 season shows either a more defensive-minded full-back or one not as likely to create chances or affect play in the final third as Reguilon. If we compare Davies to the Premier League's best left-back of the 18/19 season, the difference in style is clear to see:
At present, Davies starts as left-back but tucks in alongside the centre-backs to form a defensive three when Spurs have possession, allowing the right-back Matt Doherty, and previously Serge Aurier, to take up an advanced position as a winger.
This system depends on Heung-min Son staying wide left to ensure Spurs maintain attacking width, which doesn't always suit the South Korean, who is essentially a striker played on the wing and most effective when attacking central space.
Reguilon doesn't only stick to wide areas either, scoring his Europa League goal (against Roma) with a driving run inside the pitch, taking players by surprise to attack through the middle and finish at the near post:
His assist against Manchester United showed all of Reguilon's various talents in one flowing move. After receiving the ball wide on the touchline, Reguilon moves it on with a clever flick.
Lucas Ocampos, the left winger, controls the pass, and so rather than occupy the same vertical space, Reguilon curves his run inside the pitch to underlap. The timing is perfect, with the full-back jogging into position before sprinting just before the pass is made, catching Aaron Wan-Bissaka behind the play.
Reguilon has momentum and accelerates to wide of the box, delivering a perfect low cross to the back post for Suso to finish.
Sevilla went on to win 2-1.
Davies is an attacking full-back too but just not as dangerous or effective in the final third, better suited to breaking up play and holding his position than galavanting towards the opposition goal, which might explain why Mourinho has looked to use him as a 'false full-back' in a defensive three. Reguilon should help balance out both flanks, which will make Spurs far less predictable going forwards, and therefore more difficult to defend against.
Determination and a winning mentality
Reguilon has the pace, acceleration and all the technical skill of a top full-back, but most importantly of all, his mental attributes suit the profile of player that Mourinho wants. As repeatedly stressed on Amazon's All or Nothing documentary, Mourinho is keen for his players to act like "c**** for 90 minutes" in order to win matches and clearly likes a certain sort of determined character in the team.
Reguilon has already shown the mental fortitude to break through the Real Madrid youth academy and play in a first team populated by superstars, and exhausted himself battling until the end of the Europa League final against Inter Milan to secure the win, examples that place him on the light side of the Force (football edition). Crucially, his statistics in La Liga show that he's prepared to commit to the dark arts when needed.
A fouls conceded per 90 of 1.81 might not sound particularly high but it places him 23rd in the table last season, crammed around various centre-backs and midfielders whose sole job is to win the ball. It's not that he's nasty or clumsy but that he prevents dangerous situations from unfolding and this game intelligence could prove vital in tight matches for Spurs.
Supporters might be slightly more excited about the arrival of a certain other left-footed Real Madrid star but Reguilon is a superb signing who should quietly make Tottenham much better in all departments.