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First team

Expert view: Diego Rico

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth officially completed the signing of Spanish left-back Diego Rico from Leganes on Tuesday evening. La Liga expert Simon Harrison details exactly what Cherries fans can expect from their new recruit...

Leganes have enjoyed a fairytale last five years. Rico has tagged along since 2016 for their top-flight exploits, where he has managed to cement his place as a consistent performer in La Liga.

Since arriving from second-division outfit Real Zaragoza, the Spaniard settled in immediately and was in the thick of the action within a week of putting pen to paper on his first contract at the Madrid-based club, when some had perceived him to be a deal done to pad out the squad after their unexpected promotion.

Rico caught the eye in Segunda for his physical profile and the explosive edge which he could offer while on the offensive from left-back at Real Zaragoza. During his time at his former club, he also showed himself to be capable of featuring as a central defender, which is a position he has past experience in.

Armed with a powerful left foot, as well as the stamina and drive needed to work hard up and down the flank, Asier Garitano saw in him a player that could be incredibly useful as a left wing-back in his five-man defence.

After making the jump up to La Liga, Rico settled in quickly and didn’t look out of place. Strong in the tackle, blessed with enough pace to keep the majority of wide men in check and playing disciplined defensive role in a very organised Leganes set up, the €1 million outlay for his signing could be considered as nothing less than a bargain. For a side that could be described as realistically negative, his disciplinary record was more a product of their philosophy than his temperament.

Leganes were not lucky enough to have strikers that would chip in with plenty of goals over the last two campaigns, therefore emphasising the importance of their wing backs. Rico would be asked to provide the width and allow for the teammate ahead of him to have the freedom to roam, push on or link up with the team’s lone front man, with the left wing-back asked to drive into the final third and look to get to the byline and deliver with his impressive left foot.

Rico has shown himself to be reliable, physical and a threat on the break over the last two years in La Liga. He should have the perfect profile to be a competitive full back in the Premier League, with the physical capabilities and height to hold his own and enough pace to keep opponents in check.

After years of playing on the break and being disciplined in defence, it will be exciting to see how he acclimatises to a new squad that enjoy plenty of possession and can play more readily on the front foot, as well as giving him the chance to provide service for strikers that have far more quality than his former teammates.

Simon Harrison (@simonhfootball) is a La Liga expert and regularly contributes to FourFourTwo, WhoScored and more.

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