Tottenham Hotspur have completed the signing of Sergio Reguilon from Real Madrid on a five-year contract for £32 million including add-ons. Voted La Liga’s best left back last season whilst on loan at Sevilla, Spurs will feel they’ve got a great deal for the Spanish star. Despite being out of favour with Zidane, his ability and potential is so apparent to the Spanish giants that they insisted on a £41.25m buy back option for the 23-year-old Spanish international. He may one day return to Madrid, but in the meantime, Spurs fans will love him.
Reguilon provides great attacking threat and creativity, racking up two goals and four assists in La Liga from left back last season. Renowned for his progressive and incisive passing, he created the second most chances per 90 (behind Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy) out of the 23 most picked La Liga left backs last season.
Additionally, his crossing is exceptionally accurate, and he notched up the third most successful open play crosses from the same list, showing his eagerness to get into attacking positions and deliver threatening balls into the box. Reguilon also excels with his dribbling ability, with the fourth most take-ons completed and the second highest success rate, showcasing his exciting ability to beat a man in wide areas.
With no clear weaknesses going forward, Reguilon has all the abilities of an exciting, modern-day attacking full back. Other than current left back Ben Davies’ phenomenal crossing accuracy, there really is no comparison to Reguilon who provides far greater attacking potential with superior pace, creativity, and dribbling ability.
An aggressive defender, Reguilon excels at pressing and defending higher up the pitch. Despite occasionally getting caught out, his proactive style allows him to pin the opposition’s winger back and make the most of transitions by covering ground quickly with his pace. With high numbers of recoveries and duels contested, Reguilon can help improve Tottenham’s “lazy press” which was bemoaned by Mourinho after their opening day defeat to Everton.
Davies, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. A much more reactive defender, with the least recoveries per 90 out of regular left backs in the Premier League last season and much fewer duels and tackles than Reguilon. However, Davies’ defensive positional sense and superior aerial ability mean he’s much more suited to tucking in from left back as he’s been doing under Mourinho. Davies could even excel playing left centre back in a back three as he has done for Wales – including in their run to the semi-final at Euro 2016.
Spurs could deploy a formation similar to what Sevilla or Liverpool used last season. A 4-3-3 with excellent attacking full backs in Reguilon and Doherty providing a creative threat out wide – much like Reguilon and Navas did for Sevilla last season. Reguilon and Doherty would provide attacking width for Spurs, allowing Son and Bale to play as inside forwards with a greater goal threat. This could later become a 4-2-3-1 if Mourinho ever wanted to accommodate outcast, Dele Alli
Reguilon could also strike up a similar partnership with Heung-Min Son as he did with Lucas Ocampos at Sevilla. Overlapping or underlapping his winger to exploit the gaps in the opposition defence and find dangerous positions to create from.
Yet a back four with both full backs bombing forward seems rather un-Mourinho like. Jose Mourinho has a reputation for being a defensively-minded coach and often operated last season with Aurier pushing forward and Davies tucking in which always left three defenders back to cover. Therefore, allowing both new signings Reguilon and Doherty free reign to play their natural attacking games in a 4-3-3 would be a surprise given that Mourinho is in the dugout – especially against better opposition.
Although not commonly used by Mourinho, a back three (in a 3-4-3 formation) would be a sensible solution.
Reguilon would have creative licence to play to his strengths and join the attack, knowing that there’s extra cover from Davies in the back three. Additionally, natural right wing back Matt Doherty could get forward and create in the role that he impressed in so much for Wolves.
As in the 4-3-3, Reguilon and Doherty would be able to form wide partnerships with Son and Bale. The wing backs would provide width for spurs whilst inside forwards Son and Bale would be closer to Kane (and the goal).
Losing a central midfielder shouldn’t be an issue for Mourinho with this system. Never a manager to prioritise possession in midfield, the 3-4-3 should lend itself perfectly to counter attacking in the same way that Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves have excelled on the counter attack using this system. The likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko have a high work rate and boundless energy so should be able to cover enough ground as a midfield duo. Tottenham were a formidable counter attacking side under Pochettino so this is a mentality they should be well suited to, especially as they sometimes switched to a back three during his tenure.
Despite finishing sixth last season and losing to Everton on the opening day, Spurs fans will be excited about the new season. With Mourinho more in tune with his squad, Spurs have all the ability needed to finish in the top four.