From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – For much of the summer 2020 window, it looked as if Sergio Reguilon would be heading to Manchester United.
The Red Devils were vocally in the market for a new left-back, but after declining to put a buy-back clause in their offer to Real Madrid, eventually settled for Porto’s Alex Telles instead.
That allowed Spurs to come into and win the race for Reguilon, who seriously impressed in Sevilla’s march to the Europa League title and a top four La Liga finish. After a good first half to his first season in England, the Spaniard’s form alarmingly dipped at the start of 2021 – though that was the case for most of Spurs’ players at the back end of Jose Mourinho’s reign.
That spell made people forget how good Reguilon had been for the last couple of years, why he was so highly rated before he had even played at a full Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank alluded to the chaos that has clouded Tottenham in the aftermath of reaching the Champions League final in 2019, with Antonio Conte now tasked with picking up the pieces.
Switching to a 3-4-3, Reguilon revealed after Conte’s first Premier League game in charge that the new boss has demanded more from him in terms of goal contributions and causing havoc in the opposition box.
Since then, Reguilon has scored the winner against Leeds and teed up Son Heung-min for the second in a 2-0 victory against the Bees.
Playing as a wing-back flanking a back-three formation is obviously different from playing as an ordinary left-back, but the change has unleashed Reguilon – and yet you feel there’s still another few levels he can take his game to.
While he’s having a direct impact and influence on games, there are still some moments of madness in defence and a tendency to dribble down dead-ends and keep his head down – it happened plenty against Leeds and Brentford, and yet he was still a huge positive influence in both games. Ryan Sessegnon’s foolish dismissal in the Europa Conference League will surely benefit the Spaniard in Conte’s eyes, too.
There isn’t a better coach in world football capable of maximising a wing-back than the former Juventus and Chelsea boss, who even made a mid-30s Ashley Young look competent for title-winning Inter. Reguilon turns only 25 this month but already has plenty of top-level experience under demanding eyes behind him – now he has a great chance to prove that 2021 was simply a blip.
Spurs are adding a steely streak as a collective to their bow, but Conte’s greatest individual success so far has been Reguilon.