Alex Lynch gives us a detailed scout report about Sevilla’s young goal-keeper- Sergio Rico.
When Spain went on their unprecedented run of international success from 2008 to 2014, besides the midfield core that they had, their goalie Iker Casillas was the most integral part of the side. Without a lot of big saves from Casillas none of their achievements would have been possible. But now that Casillas has aged, and so has Victor Valdes, La Roja need a new goalie. They have one of the world’s best in De Gea, who has already become the new number one. But there’s another goalie ready to challenge De Gea for that number one spot. He is Sevilla FC’s young star whose name is Sergio Rico.
Who is Sergio Rico?
A Sevilla FC player now, Rico is a Seville boy through and through. He was born right in heart of Seville in 1993, and he’s been with Sevilla for his entire life. When rising through Sevilla’s youth system, Rico wasn’t one of their top prospects, and wasn’t one of Spain’s best young goalkeepers. Rico has been a senior player for Sevilla since 2011, playing for Sevilla B 36 times from 2011 to 2014 in the Segunda division. After impressing with the B team, when both of Sevilla’s goalkeepers were injured, Rico got the call for Sevilla and made his La Liga debut on September 14th 2014. Ever since that day Rico’s rise has been incredible. 4 days after his first La Liga match Rico appeared in the Europa League for Sevilla, keeping another clean sheet in a win for Sevilla. By December Rico was firmly the number two for Sevilla, maintaining his spot in the La Liga side. Soon after, he signed a new contract and became Sevilla’ number one goalkeeper. Rico’s fine form in the Europa League helped Sevilla win the competition last season, and as a result Rico was called up to La Roja for the first time in May of last season, his first call up to La Roja at any level. Rico has been called up several times since then, but has yet to feature for La Roja.
Talent Radar Accolades
2016-17 La Liga Young Player of the Season [Runner Up]
In total, Rico made 37 appearances last season, with 11 coming in the Europa League. This season Rico has started every game for Sevilla while making his Champions League debut. Rico’s had some fantastic displays so far against Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona. This has helped Rico make himself one of the best goalkeepers in all of Europe.
Style of Play, Strengths, and Weaknesses
One of Rico’s best traits is his size, as he stands at 6 foot 5 (1.95m), which makes him great at stopping long shots with his long arms and legs. Against Barcelona, Rico displayed his ability to stretch his arms and legs with a great diving save against Neymar from around 16 yards. Rico denied Neymar again from the left side of the box this time, diving to his left and easily being able to reach the shot. Against Real Madrid, Rico made a solid save on a shot from Gareth Bale, that came right at his head, but he handled it well. Against Real Sociedad, he saved a thirty yard shot that he needed to jump up and tip over the bar very quickly, using his long reach to do so without having that many problems. In all of the instances, Rico’s height and very long reach made him able to make saves that most goalkeepers can’t make. Rico’s reach also made those saves much easier for him than another goalkeeper, as most goalies would’ve either conceded a corner or put it in a bad area, while Rico parried the ball away to safety.
Another strength of Rico’s is his reflexes and reactions. While having size is helpful, it’s useless without reflexes to back it up, and Rico certainly has those reflexes. Against Barcelona, Rico sprinted out of the goal and quickly stuck his hands up to stop Neymar’s one on one effort to preserve the clean sheet for Sevilla. Against Real Madrid he showed his reflexes on a header by Casemiro, Rico was able to dive to his right in a split second to just about make the save. That save by Rico kept it at 1-0 and kept Sevilla in the match against Real Madrid, which they would end up winning 3-2. Rico also made a great close range save from a volley against Real Sociedad last season for Sevilla, while robbing Ronaldo in similar fashion as well last season, sticking his arms up at the last second to deny Ronaldo from very close. All of these instances showed that Rico has terrific reactions and reflexes, which allow him to move all around the goal and make saves that most wouldn’t be able to make. Rico’s ability to make quick decisions and to move across the goal help him make great saves and stop crosses and corners. Rico’s ability to stop corners with his long arms in another one of his strengths. Against Real Madrid, they often took short corners or corners that were far away from Rico because of how prolific he is at reaching up and grabbing the ball. Not all goalies are great at doing this, but Rico’s height and reflexes make him great at catching corners and crosses into the box.
Despite being one of the best goalkeepers in Spain for the last 12 months, Rico does have issues with consistency as a 22 year old goalie would. In his last La Liga match before his man of the match against Barcelona, Rico had a sub-par performance against Rayo Vallecano in what was a narrow 3-2 win for Sevilla. Rico’s consistency has improved this season, but he still has the off night which might prevent him from surpassing De Gea for La Roja. Rico isn’t a superb passer or thrower, with a 65% passing percentage, which is pretty much average for a goalkeeper. Rico will need to have that number around 70% if he wants to be considered in the company of Neuer, Courtois and all of the other great goalkeepers in the world.
What does the future hold?
For Sergio Rico, the future is incredibly bright and promising. One of the main things that will happen in his future is to play for Spain, not just be included in Vicente del Bosque’s squad. Rico would hope to feature in either Euro 2016 or what is more likely is the World Cup in 2018. A move to a bigger club is also likely for Rico if he keeps playing the way he is. With the big two in Spain both seeing what he can do a move to one of those two clubs is definitely a possibility for Rico if he continues to grow as a goalkeeper and gains more and more experience in the La Liga. Rico has a long term contract, which means that becoming captain of Sevilla is something that he could achieve as well. While Rico has a bright future ahead of him, the immediate future is promising as well. His immediate future in La Liga is promising, but it’s great for La Roja and Del Bosque as well.
Written by Alex Lynch
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