If you’re looking for a full-back, watch in LaLiga

Category: Team Analysis

The Spanish LaLiga is going through a special moment regarding the emergence of young full-backs who are interesting in terms of quality, performance, and market value. We discover seven full-backs who could be closely monitored by the sporting directors of top clubs.

Published:08/05/2024

Spanish LaLiga has stood out, mainly since its successful winning period with the National Team, between 2008 and 2012, for producing high-quality midfielders, suitable for any competitive level and coming from a multitude of different clubs. An undeniable seal of quality that, on the other hand, has not overshadowed the talent present in other positions. It is interesting to pay attention, at scouting level, to what is currently happening with the position of full-back, where a large number of young and/or experienced players are coinciding in LaLiga.

Sergi Cardona – UD Las Palmas – 1999 – Left-back – 186cm – Contract end: 2024

UD Las Palmas will likely have a very busy summer with ins and outs. More than a team, García Pimienta, their coach, has managed to establish a project that has led to the growth of numerous players thanks to their style of play. Among them, their left-back, Sergi Cardona, 24 years old and whose contract ends this summer. A complete full-back, although his performance has clearly declined in the second half of the season, he particularly stands out defensively for his physicality, one-on-one ability, and capacity to recover balls through tackling. He has been linked with teams in LaLiga, and his free-agent status makes him an option for other top leagues.

Juanlu Sánchez – Sevilla FC – 2003 – Right-back/wing-back – 186cm – Contract end: 2026 – Market value: €15M

One of the great promises of Sevilla’s academy, he has not taken long to demonstrate a very interesting level as a right-back or wing-back, a position he has played since Quique Sánchez-Flores arrived, showcasing very good physical and offensive abilities to progress, verticalize, and improve plays when they reach his zone of influence. He is the seventh full-back in LaLiga for chances created and the fourth for completed dribbles. What has ultimately secured his continuity in the first team is his defensive strength, being exceptional in duels and one-on-ones, rarely being dribbled past. An interesting market opportunity given the club’s economic context.

Jesús Areso – Osasuna – 1999 – Right-back – 182cm – Contract end: 2026 – Market value: €5M

Author of one of the most spectacular goals of the Spanish championship, Jesús Areso has been one of the most pleasant surprises of a somewhat more irregular season for Osasuna. A full-back with long strides, little interior play, and a great stride to take the team forward after winning back possession. Very good physically and great ability to cross while running. He is particularly prolific in long dribbles.

Miguel Gutiérrez – Girona – 2001 – Left-back – 180cm – Contract end: 2027 – Market value: €20M

A full-back who already belongs to a lower competitive level with an uncertain future. On loan from Real Madrid, it is unclear whether he will continue at the Santiago Bernabéu, sign for Girona, or seek another opportunity. Miguel Gutiérrez’s case is particular. His position within Girona’s system is not fixed, alternating between the interior zone and the attacking midfielder role, bearing many similarities to Alejandro Grimaldo’s role at Bayer Leverkusen. His ball control, vision of the game, and quality in striking place him as a player with enormous technical possibilities in teams that manage high possession rates and highly variable offensive systems. His well-tempered crosses into the box are one of the most notable features of Michel’s Girona, who will play in the 2023/24 Champions League next season.

Arnau Martínez – Girona – 2003 – Right-back – 182cm – Contract end: 2025 – Market value: €10M

A different case is that of Arnau Martínez, whose peak moment came in the previous season (22/23). With a very similar role, inverting his position and playing more centrally – see heat map – Arnau, who was close to being transferred, has gone somewhat unnoticed this season but remains an interesting profile even as a third center-back in a three-man line. His main deficit is physical. Despite having good stature, he struggles defensively and doesn’t have good numbers in duels. In his favor, he has a great understanding of the game and a fantastic ability to break the opponent’s pressure with his first passes.

Marc Pubill – Almería – 2003 – Right-back – 191cm – Contract end: 2029 – Market value: €3M

A different profile from all those mentioned but very interesting due to his market value and Almería’s relegation to the Segunda División. Much taller than usual for a full-back, Pubill already showed very high potential at Levante. A full-back with a huge stride, resources in the final third, good ball control, and very good in all types of duels. There are many possibilities that he will be transferred this summer (Almería paid €5 million for him last summer).

Javi López – Alavés – 2002 – Left-back – 183cm – Contract end: 2025 – Market value: €5M

One of the big surprises of the season in LaLiga is Javi López, left-back for Deportivo Alavés, who will not lack offers. A very good basic physical level and extraordinary speed and power (one of the fastest players in LaLiga). His contract ends in 2025 and he is only 22 years old. A closely watched player, he is another of the young full-backs who have recently stood out in the league and who will soon enjoy a great opportunity.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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