Who is Emerson Royal? How Tottenham target could fit in and why Barcelona are so desperate to sell
Emerson is expected to complete his move on deadline day (Photo: AFP/Getty)
Tottenham are reportedly close to agreeing a deal for the Barcelona right-back as they attempt to offload Aurier
For a side top of the table heading into the (admittedly early) international break, there remains a sense that the puzzle is not quite complete at Tottenham Hotspur.
A creative midfielder is lacking. Nuno Espirito Santo has not exactly banished doubts over his style of football with three 1-0 wins in a row, but they are wins all the same.
The Harry Kane saga which threatened to overshadow the early weeks of the campaign has been resolved, but it has been replaced by lesser speculation surrounding club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier.
Both are reportedly up for sale; both are struggling to attract many suitors. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that the louder those facts are shouted, the harder Spurs will find it to recoup respectable fees for the pair.
Ndombele’s situation is arguably more retrievable than Aurier’s. Japhet Tanganga’s early season displays, and Nuno’s prior relationship with Matt Doherty at wing-back, hint there is no way back for the Ivorian, not least because of the late pursuit of Barcelona’s Emerson Royal.
Fabrizio Romano reports that a deal has now been agreed in the region of £25m for the 22-year-old, who previously attracted interest from Arsenal.
If ever there was a symptom of Barcelona’s ill-thought-out transfer strategy, it is to be found in their immoderate unveilings. Emerson was treated to the works when he signed in 2019. He has spent the following two-and-a-half years on loan at Real Betis and has played three times for the Blaugrana.
So mammoth is the level of debt at Camp Nou – their wage bill is another problem, one which necessitated the departure of Lionel Messi – that whether he might otherwise have been in Ronald Koeman’s thinking long-term or not, his club are not in a position to refuse bids. Indeed, it is a significant fee and one which negates the need to cash in on some of their more high-profile assets.
Emerson is one of at least a dozen players who they are willing to let leave, though realistically Barcelona will struggle to shift many more before the transfer window shuts.
Emerson is now a fully-fledged Brazilian international, part of the squad that reached the Copa America final earlier this summer.
From Spurs’ perspective, he fits ideally into Nuno’s mould; akin to Doherty who flourished higher up the pitch at Molineux but has struggled for consistency in north London, he can play as a wing-back or as a more conventional defender.
Playing on the right of the midfield could also shake up a trio of Dele Alli, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp with the latter the most likely to drop to the bench.
Elsewhere, Bryan Gil and Cristian Romero are the only two signings expected to challenge for a starting berth (Pierluigi Gollini will be a back-up to Hugo Lloris for now and Pape Matar Sarr has been loaned back to Metz until next season).
There have been few sweeping changes at Spurs and if Tanganga continues to thrive, Emerson may yet prove to be just another minor tweak.