Tottenham are set to inject some positivity into their season, with some headline-stealing recruitment. BBC Sport report that they are closing in on Sergio Reguilon and in talks over Gareth Bale. The double swoop from Real Madrid would create excitement for the fan-base and improve the quality available to Jose Mourinho. If both come, the return of Bale would be the main story, but we will focus on what Reguilon could offer to Spurs below.
The exciting left-back has had a lot of interest in his services during the close season following a very good loan spell with Sevilla. He shone in the Europa League closing stages and helped his team to another triumph in the competition. The indications are that Tottenham have managed to move ahead of Manchester United to sign Reguilon, as they are willing to agree to a buy-back clause. This would suggest that this could be a transfer made with short-term planning in mind, with Ryan Sessegnon still seen as the long-term starter.
Last season, Reguilon showed his quality in the attacking half with three goals and five assists across La Liga and the Europa League. In the league, he averaged 0.29 goal creating actions and 2.3 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. If he does come in, it could show a willingness to change style with two attacking full-backs. Recent right-back recruit, Matt Doherty, averaged 0.48 goal creating actions and 2.03 shot creating actions per ninety minutes last season.
Further to his goal threat, Reguilon is an asset during transition, as he is able to make progressive passes and carry the ball. He averaged 6.9 progressive passes and 1.5 completed dribbles per ninety minutes. It is obvious that he will improve the creativity and ball progression on the left-flank. Ben Davies is a solid defender, but he is limited in what he can offer in the attacking third.
For any signing coming into a Jose Mourinho side, they will need to be positionally disciplined and be able to defend. Reguilon averaged 2.8 ball recoveries per ninety minutes, with a tackle success rate of 46%. During his time with Sevilla, he was very good at recovering to do his defensive work and was certainly not a weakness, despite his willingness to push forward.
To provide some context on what Tottenham currently have. Ben Davies has been the preferred option under Mourinho. Last season, he didn’t contribute a single goal or assist in his 1432 minutes of game-time. The Welsh international averaged 1.07 shot creating actions, 5.7 progressive passes and 2.6 ball recoveries per ninety minutes.
It is perhaps unfair to directly compare him with Reguilon, as he was asked to play a more restrictive role, but it is clear that the Spaniard is a more well-rounded full-back. There may also be injury concerns about Davies, as he has missed large portions of recent seasons, as shown by his minutes last year. With Danny Rose set to depart and Sessegnon having a lack of experience, it was important for Spurs to sign another left-back. If this deal does go through, it may provide Sessegnon with an opportunity to go out on loan.
Over the last 12 months, Reguilon has emerged as one of the most exciting left-backs in Europe. He has already shown an ability to do well at the highest level for Sevilla, therefore it will be considered a low risk transfer. A buy back clause being inserted is a minor disappointment if reports are to be believed, but Real Madrid will have learned their lesson from selling Theo Hernandez without one.
If this transfer does go through, it may force Mourinho into a formation change. Throughout his career, he has rarely played with two attacking full-backs, but with Reguilon and Doherty, he looks set to move to this approach with Tottenham. It could be that a move to a back three is the best solution, as it would allow him to add the pace of Davinson Sanchez to the current partnership of Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld. This would also free up the full-backs to play higher up the pitch.
It was clear something needed to be changed by Tottenham following their opening day defeat. The team lacked urgency and looked a long way off the pace. These signings could help address that.