Although he had his doubters in his early days at Tottenham Hotspur since arriving from Sporting CP for a sizable £39 million fee, Pedro Porro’s impressively silenced his critics through his accomplished displays.
Joining last January with Antonio Conte still at the helm, it wasn’t long before the Italian left, which then saw Cristian Stellini take over. He too departed, leaving Ryan Mason in charge until the end of the season. In the midst of all this turmoil, it was hardly surprising the Spaniard struggled to prove his worth from the off. Toggle forward to now, though, and he’s thriving spectacularly under the guidance of Ange Postecoglou within this exciting-new look Spurs outfit.
Consistent, happy playing in Postecoglou’s system that’s getting the best out of him and brimming with confidence, there’s no doubting he’s been one of the standout wide defenders in the Premier League.
Shining brightly on both sides of the ball, adjusting to his tactically sophisticated new role brilliantly and assertively stamping his mark, watching him make such outstanding progress has been a massive positive for all associated with the club.
“It’s a system that I’m really suited to and it’s really working well for me,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s a new system that I haven’t played before. I’m playing inside as a full-back, but it’s somewhere I’m feeling confident. I’m feeling really happy out there and I think you can see that when I’m playing.”
To start with his offensive performance, and his role has been so crucial in terms of ball progression and causing dilemmas for opponents due to his intelligent movement from his inverted full-back post.
Able to get dangerous and add an extra number in midfield to help form overloads and positional superiorities, place doubt in the minds of markers and open passing lanes, he’s been integral in helping Spurs bypass pressing structures to inject life into attacks.
Reading the play masterfully and awake to what his teammates and nearby defenders are doing, observing him smartly pick his moments to exploit space has been hugely impressive.
The slick rotations he executes with colleagues and decisive upfield bursts on the underlap and, at times, overlap have added to his impact, for he’s forever asking questions of markers to wreak havoc for his team.
So comfortable receiving in central areas and very press resistant, this has ensured he’s been able to shine in possession, as his technical skills, awareness and scanning has accompanied the aforementioned nicely.
Composed and calm on the ball, his sound first touch and tight control has afforded him the platform to excel further with the ball at his feet. Boasting nifty speed and so sharp at turning to allow him to drive ahead rapidly and to gain separation, he’s been a major force at outfoxing foes and gaining territory for Spurs.
A superb passer as well, this aspect of his armoury has been on full show, for he’s been terrific at progressing the ball through line breaking passes, slick interplay, crafty crosses and cutbacks and by firing incisive through balls over the top directly in behind or down the channels.
Parlaying vision and execution, his teammates have relished his silver service on a host of occasions, as his range, weighting of his deliveries and capacity to carve open defences from both open play and set pieces has been a joy to watch.
His elite ball striking skills from his more central station has seen him be in advantageous positions to put his lethal shooting to good use while adding another dimension of threat for Spurs.
Getting better all the time defensively, the 24-year-old has notably silenced his critics in this area as well, as his work on the training ground with the Tottenham coaching staff has paid dividends handsomely.
Fierce in the challenge, aggressive when pressuring his prey and never one to take a backwards step, watching him undertake his stopping duties with such authority certainly lifts those around him. And has endeared him to the fans too, who love seeing this type of attitude and fearless approach.
Although he still makes the odd error, which is to be expected in Postecoglou’s front footed system that sees them play a very high line, for the most part, he’s been solid on his way to tracking runners effectively, supporting colleagues, making sound decisions and putting his body on the line for his team.
By the numbers, upon comparing him to Newcastle United star in Kieran Trippier this season using Wyscout data, Porro admirably holds the ascendancy over the Englishman in a host of metrics such as dribbles per 90, offensive duels p90, offensive duels win percentage, touches inside the box p90, progressive runs p90, successful attacking actions p90, shots p90, smart passes p90, through passes p90, successful defensive actions p90, defensive duels p90, tackles p90 and interceptions p90.
“I’m really, really happy with how things are going. Since he [Postecoglou] has got here he’s given us so much positivity to the team and it’s something very important for players to have, and I think you can see that when we’re playing,” Porro insisted.
Mentally strong and loving life working under big Ange, who trusts him fully and has an unwavering belief in him, it’s been a testament to his quality, adaptability and the coaching expertise of his Greek-born Australian manager that he’s made the spot his own.
In magnificent form and now an indispensable member of Spurs’ squad, his importance will only be heightened in the coming weeks due to Spurs suffering some injuries to key men both in attack and defence.
Porro, however, will back himself to step up to the plate, for he’s always one to rise to the occasion and take on responsibility – which is precisely what he’s done this season by letting his football do all the talking.