Chelsea’s search for a new left-back has taken an unexpected turn this week, with Real Madrid’s Sergio Reguilon the latest player to be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. As rumours intensify over a potential deal, we take a look at what the 23-year-old could offer Frank Lampard’s side.
Reguilon, whilst under contract at Real Madrid, has built a steady reputation for himself on-loan at Sevilla. His confidence in possession, both when carrying the ball and playing out of the press, has proven to be a vital component of Sevilla’s build-up play this season. The Spaniard’s stats (10.18 progressive passes and an 81% pass accuracy) underpin both the regularity and consistency at which he can instigate his team’s transitions forward.
Lampard often asks his full-backs to play high and wide, with Chelsea’s deepest lying midfielder dropping in to provide defensive cover. Now whilst Marcos Alonso offers plenty of attacking momentum, there are long-standing question marks over his defensive capabilities which are exacerbated by an inability to play in a back four. Emerson meanwhile has been deemed surplus to requirements.
With this in mind, Reguilon continues to profile favourably. In terms of both deep progressive runs and deep completed passes, he ranks above both Alonso and fellow Chelsea target Ben Chilwell. This metric is useful in determining the players’ ability to affect the final third through ball progression and provide frequent passes within 20 meters of the opponent’s goal.
Chelsea struggled against teams who forced them to play out wide last season, with The Blues often failing to find their range when crossing into the area. Alonso averaged 3.51 crosses per 90 at a 25% success rate last campaign. And whilst Chilwell boasted a more impressive success rate (33.75%), he only averaged 3.2 crosses per 90. Reguilon in comparison though excelled once again.
A staple of Reguilon’s attacking play is his unpredictability. We have already discussed his ability to hold the width of the pitch and deliver crosses into the area. But Reguilon is also comfortable coming in-field and providing underlapping runs from deep. He is hence able to regularly pick up dangerous goalscoring positions, and it explains why he completed the second-most shots of any full-back in La Liga last season (23).
At just 5’10 Reguilon does little to solve Chelsea’s lack of physical edge, but ultimately he uses this to his advantage. The low centre of gravity afforded to him by his stature allows Reguilon to quickly drive with the ball and bypass opposition defenders. This, coupled with his outstanding endurance, allows the full-back to exploit spaces left by teams late on in the match.
Defensively speaking Reguilon’s aggressive style is well suited to Chelsea’s high pressing game. He often looks to push high and be proactive in winning back possession. With this comes a self-awareness that he is not the ablest 1v1 defender, and Reguilon is comfortable relying on his pace to aid his recovery runs. Alonso adopts a similar style of play, but whilst he is hindered by his lack of acceleration in transitions, Reguilon is not.
Overall Reguilon appeals to many of the traits Lampard looks for in a full-back. He offers a forward-thinking and aggressive option from the left. Able to press high and recover possession quickly once the ball has been turned over. Whilst he still has plenty to learn in regards to the timing of his press and the weight of his final ball, at a reported £25 million fee Reguilon offers a low-risk high reward option for Chelsea.
It must be said that all stats recorded in this article have been taken from before the resumption of European football in June.