Villarreal has signed Nerea Pérez from CD Santa Teresa on a free transfer. She has also played for Extremedura and spent nine seasons with Levante and is a former Spain youth international. Santa Teresa were pretty woeful last season, getting themselves relegated while only scoring 22 goals all campaign, so when I look at Nerea’s numbers I’m not really focused on goals and assists.
Some things that stuck out to me. She completed 4.49 dribbles per 90 last season, and while her dribble completion percentage is only about 25%, in most clips I saw focused on her dribbling the ball, two defenders immediately moved to stop her when she got the ball. That’s a clear sign to me that they recognize the threat she poses with the ball at her feet. For her career (in the data I have available) she completes about 40% of her attempted crosses, but she does not attempt very many of them per 90. This is a person who wants to get on the ball in a wide area, carry it forward, and then either drop it off to someone making an overlapping run or move inside to create something for someone else.
From 2011-2020 she scored 15 goals for Levante, so while she’s often listed as a right attacking midfielder, what I’m envisioning here is more of the type of wide mid you might see in a traditional 442 formation. Her job is to progress the ball, not necessarily to get the goals or assists.
A player with Nerea’s experience is going to be a great thing for Villarreal as they enter their first season in the top flight with a lot of young talent. I look forward to seeing what she brings to Sara Monforte’s setup. Welcome Nerea!