Who Is Sergio Reguilon and Why May Napoli Need Him?

Napoli have reportedly set their eyes on Sevilla’s left-back Sergio Reguilon. But who is this Real Madrid home-grown left back who has been recently stealing the international stages with his excellent Europa League performances and what good could he do to Gennaro Gattuso’s Partenopei?

In the middle of the 2018-19 season, the undisputed kings of Europe for the last three seasons were going through one of their most difficult periods in recent memory. Real Madrid had lost their manager and their ultimate mega star Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018 and it became obvious week after week that they had lost their way as well.

After the disastrous short reign of Julen Lopetegui, President Florentino Perez appointed caretaker manager Santiago Solari, hoping to replicate the magical move he did three years before when former player Zinedine Zidane was able to dramatically turn the fortunes of the club.

However, as the Madridistas would soon discover, 2019 wasn’t going to be another 2016, and Solari’s reign would be far more similar to his predecessor’s than to the great Zidane’s. And yet one bright light shone in the middle of that forgettable season, and that was Sergio Reguilon – who was able to win a starter position as he benched no less than Marcelo.

The past decade is not particularly known for left-back excellency, and yet Madrid legend Marcelo had cemented himself as one of the all-time greats in the position thanks to his contribution in his club’s four Champions League triumphs, as well as several domestic accomplishments.

But after losing his partner in crime on the left  flank for the last nine years, it was obvious that Ronaldo’s exit would hit Marcelo more than any other Madrid player, and the king of all left-backs suddenly lost his starting position to relatively unknown Reguilon – a young player from Madrid’s second team Castilla. It was a brave decision taken by Solari.

Reguilon must have been at the top of the world back then, starting every weekend for his childhood mega club. But unfortunately for the young Spaniard, life is never simple for a Real Madrid youth product and Zizou’s surprising return to the club meant that his old favorites, including Marcelo, were back in the starting XI.

Later in the summer, the arrival of yet another Frenchman in Ferland Mendy pushed him down even further, and like most of Castilla’s youth products he had to prove himself on loan at some smaller side in La Liga.

Julen Lopetegui took over Sevilla in the summer of 2019 to rebuild his career after his double-botched 2018. Perhaps learning from his past mistakes, he decided to bring Reguilon on loan and actually make him play this time – and the young man absolutely delivered.

A starter in the vast majority of Sevillas’s matches, Sergio Reguilon turned into a menace for the opponents on the flank. His incredible pace and dribbling skills allow him to create counter-attacks out of nowhere as well as rapidly tracking back to save the day, which made him one of La Liga’s top left-backs and the main attraction for any top side searching the market for somebody young to cover the role. The list includes the likes of Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, and Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli.

As they try to rebuild the full-back department, President Aurelio De Laurentiis and coach Gattuso obviously have some work to do and they would do well to sign a young energetic left-back like Reguilon to bolster the role.

Napoli’s current left backs are Faouzi Ghoulam and Mario Rui. While the former used to be arguably among the best in the role in Italy, his recent seasons have been limited by some serious injuries and periods of inactivity which suggest that at almost 30-years-old the unlucky Algerian’s best days may well be behind him.

As for Mario Rui, the former Empoli and Roma defender has been performing averagely for the Partenopei. As hard-working and generous as he may be, the hot-Tempered Mario might look like the Portuguese version of his own manager, but a club aiming for the Champions league (and maybe a little more) must find a left-back with better technical abilities, someone who could support Lorenzo Insigne on the left side as well as providing some delicious crosses for newly-signed Victor Osimhen.

Napoli already started the summer market with a solid deal in attack and had already bolstered the midfield in January by signing Diego Demme and Stanislav Lobotka as well as poaching Matteo Politano to become José Callejon’s heir on the right wing. Nikola Maksimovic and Kostas Manolas make for a solid center-back department even if Kalidou Koulibaly departs to England. As for the right flank, Giovanni Di Lorenzo proved to possibly be the best Italian in this position and Elsaid Hysaj has found his form again under Gattuso.

That leaves the left-back department as a priority for Napoli as it has obviously been the club’s weak point since Ghoulam’s first injury. This might just be the right time to replace the Algerian with the young Sergio Reguilon and insert some pace, creativity, and energy on the left flank.

But in order to do so Napoli must act quickly, as the calciomercato is about to reach its boiling point and the Partenopei need to decide whether they want to be one of the market’s sharks or to be eaten by the sharks themselves.