Sergio Reguilón, along with Jonny Evans, was probably the most surprising addition to Manchester United’s squad during the summer of 2023. The defender joined on an emergency loan from Tottenham on deadline day.
The Spaniard’s Old Trafford career so far has mirrored the first team’s rollercoaster results this year.
The Madrid native was not linked to the club at all during the whole window. Why would he have been? United had two senior left backs at the club, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, who were both coming off a successful season in 2022-23. Another young Spaniard, Alvaro Fernandez was waiting in the wings after some impressive displays for the youth team and during pre-season.
Then disaster struck. It was announced that Malacia could not participate at the start of pre-season, and we have only found out recently the extent and severity of the young Dutch full-back’s injury.
At least the club had their first team regular and England star, Luke Shaw. Wrong. The Englishman was ruled out of action for weeks after only the second game of the season, ironically against Reguilón’s parent team, Tottenham Hotspur.
Alvaro Fernandez was deemed unready to deputise and was promptly sent out on loan to Granada towards the end of the summer. Therefore, the Red Devils started the pre-season with three left backs and suddenly found themselves with none. This led to a flurry of links to players like Marc Cucurella and Ryan Bertrand before the club finally signed a deal for Reguilón.
The former Real Madrid academy product had been linked to United before, most intensely during the 2020 September window, but ended up at Spurs. The Spanish left-back had played an instrumental role in Sevilla winning the Europa League in 2020, beating the Red Devils in the semi-final on their way to glory.
Unluckily for United fans, the 26 year-old has never really hit those heights in England. He had become a bit-part player for Spurs, being loaned out to Atletico Madrid last season. Also, the fact the North London based club were willing to loan him to a rival so close to the end of the window speaks volumes about how much of a threat they think he will be to their own ambitions of a top four finish. In fact, according to a report by The Manchester Evening News the defender was “nowhere near a starting spot” for Spurs and they were looking to offload him for “any decent offer”. Therefore, the left back will view his new temporary home as a lifeline to save his career in England.
So far, Reguilón has played only six times for the club with mixed results. The full-back impressed fans with an energetic display on his Champions League debut versus Bayern Munich in September. The man from Madrid was also praised for his display against Burnley, where Erik ten Hag praised his character and spirit in the 1-0 win.
Typically though, by the end of the month in which he had made his debut, he got injured. This is exactly what a new signing does not need. It meant that United had to negotiate some tough games with Sofyan Amrabat, Diogo Dalot and Victor Lindelof all deputising at left-back.
Luckily, the Spanish full back was back available again for selection for the third game of United’s Champions League group. However, the simple fact is Ten Hag doesn’t always play him. Being the only fit senior left-back, you would assume he always plays. He doesn’t. Diogo Dalot is often selected ahead of him and a problem for the Spanish international is Luke Shaw will most likely be back in first team action by the end of the month, with the game against Everton on the 26th November pencilled in as a return date. This will surely reduce the Spanish left-back’s game time further.
Reguilón did manage to get a start yesterday against Luton Town and the performance characterised his Old Trafford career so far. A quiet and ineffective first-half which was then followed-up by an energetic and much more productive second-half performance full of high-pressing and selfless runs down the wing. Then he was subbed off with a potential injury. Such is the unpredictable life of a Manchester United left-back.
The Spaniard will have to wait and see what happens once Shaw and Malacia return. According to the club’s official website, the loan deal runs until June 2024. It will be intriguing to see how Reguilon can force himself into Ten Hag’s plans as the season wears on.