There’s no doubting Pervis Estupinan has been one of the signings of the season in the Premier League, with Brighton & Hove Albion’s exceptional recruiting department yet again delivering another masterstroke.
Bringing in the classy Ecuadorian for just £15 million, the way he’s adapted to the ultra-demanding English top flight and stepped up to fill the void left when Marc Cucurella departed for Chelsea has been nothing short of remarkable.
Full of determination, tenacity, energy and running power, his impact has been felt heavily on both ends of the pitch, as his all-round contribution has been a major asset for Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls.
While his defensive work has been solid, with him feisty in his duels, aggressive in the press, good at tracking runners and positionally sound, it’s been his offensive impact that’s really caught the eye.
To start with his devastating and varied movement, and this has been a key cornerstone towards him being such a monumental force to be reckoned with.
Dovetailing especially brilliantly with nearby winger Kaoru Mitoma, the pair’s astute interchanges and ability to create space for each other by drawing or pinning adversaries has been a joy to watch.
As a result, space is frequently generated both wide and in the half spaces for the Ecuadorian flyer to wreak havoc. Be it making headway with wicked infield underlapping runs, blistering overlaps or making room for his colleagues by acting as a decoy, his movement has been a huge source of inspiration going forward for Brighton.
Timing and directing his bursts intelligently, this has been another important aspect, for he’s a master at gaining separation by exploiting the blindside of opponents using his dynamic advantage, targeting gaps within backlines and noticing when opponents are preoccupied or out of shape.
A massive weapon both in transition, where he springs into life once Brighton regains the ball, and in slower methodical build-up, where he helps stretch the pitch horizontally and vertically and knows when to help form numerical and positional superiorities to support attacks, this has added to his worth.
Relishing his role and clearly enjoying playing within De Zerbi’s tactically sophisticated framework, the way he continually probes and asks questions of his opponents has ensured he’s a very tough man to keep tabs on.
Meanwhile, when it comes to his work in possession, the former Villarreal hotshot has flexed his muscles here too.
An effective ball progressor and chance creator, the 25-year-old holds his own when helping his team in build-up to beat the press and when conjuring danger in the final third, where his incisive line breaking passes, cutbacks and crosses ensure he stamps his mark brilliantly.
Excellent at picking out targets and tailoring his deliveries depending on the situation, there’s been much to admire about his prowess here, as he parlays power, finesse, whip, did, curl and accuracy from all over the attacking half.
His menace with the ball at his feet nicely transfers over to his dribbling, with him enjoying every opportunity he gets to embark on damaging carries. Boasting solid acceleration, admirable strength to hold off opponents and ride challenges and some nifty moves to outfox or draw out foes, he’s proven his worth here as well.
Upon seeing both Mitoma and himself torment and terrorise opposition rearguards, it makes perfect sense why the Seagulls funnel a hefty 37% of attacks down their left.
By the numbers in the EPL this season among players in his position using Wyscout data, the below figures illustrate how effective he’s been, as he ranks very highly indeed in a host of metrics.
Equal 6th for assists – 4
7th for shots – 20
10th for shot assists p90 – 1.14
10th for progressive runs p90 – 2.28
10th for deep completions p90 – 1.03
11th for ball recoveries per 90 – 10.20
13th for passes p90 – 52.31
16th for deep completed crosses p90 – 1.10
19th for crosses p90 – 3.31
21st for counterpressing recoveries p90 – 4.23
24th for offensive duels p90 – 5.33
27th for progressive passes p90 – 8.03
Consistent, athletic, physical and technical, Brighton certainly deserve enormous credit for this elite acquisition. The player himself also warrants praise for adapting so seamlessly to the extremely challenging Premier League level, as he’s unquestionably been one of the finest full-backs in the division since his arrival.
His comments on his manager and the role he’s been afforded highlight how much he’s loving life at Brighton. “We are understanding the coach’s ideas better all the time and that’s bringing results. I think it’s clear that the coach wants to give an idea of football in which we have a lot of the ball, create a lot of chances,” he explained.
“In my case, I can try to attack a lot. Obviously I can’t forget about defending, but I try to understand well what I’m asked for so I can help the team. Yes, my character is a player that, while obviously knowing my job is to defend, I really like to link up in support, help my teammates a lot and that’s what I try to do in every game.”
The latest south coast piece of genius by Brighton, Estupinan’s impact in all phases has ensured he’s been a major difference maker for De Zerbi’s high-flying Seagulls while serving as a further testament to just what a masterfully run club they are.
Expect more of the same moving forward, as both Brighton and Estupinan appear destined to keep going from strength to strength in a season that has every chance of ending with the club incredibly qualifying for European football for the first time ever.