Emerson Royal is raw but has huge potential as an attacking right back

Emerson Royal is raw but has huge potential – he was one of LaLiga’s best attacking right backs and Tottenham fans will love his marauding runs… expect learning curves, but his stay won’t be dull!

  • Tottenham signed Emerson Royal from Barcelona in a £25.7m deal last month
  • The Brazilian right back had spent the previous two season shining at Real Betis
  • Over the last two seasons in LaLiga only Jordi Alba, Jesus Navas and Kieran Trippier have provided more assists from full back than the 22-year-old
  • Defensively he’s a work in progress and is prone to getting booked for rashness

Emerson Royal’s move from Barcelona to Tottenham on deadline day brings one of LaLiga’s most explosive full backs to the Premier League. 

Sportsmail gives the lowdown on the big signing and asks whether Tottenham are getting the next Dani Alves, or just someone Barca were happy to cash-in on.

Emerson Royal is at Tottenham after leaving Barcelona in a £25.7million deal; he was only unveiled by Barca as a new signing in early August (right) but has been sold already

Expectations seem quite low among many Tottenham fans… shouldn’t they be a bit more excited about buying a Barca right back?

Well, Barca right backs are not what they used to be, and he had only played one game for them. But were Barcelona not in such a bad way financially they would have kept hold of him. He has rough edges but in the last two seasons only Jordi Alba, Jesus Navas and Kieran Trippier have provided more assists. He’s raw but the potential is huge.

Royal is an exciting, attacking full-back who Barca had to sell to raise much-needed funds

Are Barca fans disappointed he’s gone?

Supporters were divided over whether he was going to make the grade at the Nou Camp. The purists among them had big doubts whether he could really be a Barca right back but then they have had similar doubts over everyone who has tried the position since Dani Alves. It’s true that in Emerson’s only game so far this season (a narrow win over Getafe on Sunday) he wasn’t great and was taken off on 63 minutes. But then no one played well and in a chaotic summer he has hardly had time to settle in under Ronald Koeman.

Emerson (left) looks dejected during a chastening day against Getafe last Sunday

Barcelona had owned him for two years, so why was Sunday his debut?

Barca and Real Betis bought him together in 2019 from Atletico Mineiro and the deal was that he played for two years with Betis before Barca would decide to buy him outright or not.

And they decided to buy him, but to sell him. Did they always see him as a potential financial gain rather than a future first-team regular?

They wouldn’t have given him the grand presentation treatment if they had brought him back from Betis in the summer with the intention of definitely selling him. They were prepared to incorporate him if he stayed at the club but Tottenham’s willingness to pay the £25.7m for him was too good to turn down.

Did Betis not want him?

Yes but they couldn’t compete with Tottenham. He had been one of La Liga’s best attacking right backs last year at Betis under Manuel Pellegrini. But Betis get 20 per cent of the fee and bring in Hector Bellerin on loan. That’s more their spending level.

So what are his strengths?

Driving runs on the overlap with well-delivered crosses, some from deep, others having reached the byline. He can get on the end of crosses with thumping headers too. And he is also decent from the edge of the area. His rocket shot from distance in the cup away to Mutilvera in January was straight out the Brazilian full-back manual. Ten assists in the last two seasons are what makes him stand out. Betis have missed him so far this season, but in an attacking sense more than as a defender. He was their best way of getting around the back of teams last year.

Emerson had been at Real Betis the last two terms and the LaLiga certainly miss his attacking

What does he need to work on?

By his own admission he can be rash. Pellegrini told him last season not to confuse intensity with indiscipline. He had picked up three yellows and one red in the opening three games. He improved as the season went on and his tally of nine yellows was two less than the previous season. Defensively he’s a work in progress but as an attacking full-back there is not too much wrong with him.

What’s his background?

He grew up in the Buraco Quente favela in Greater Sao Paolo. He has a tattoo of the words ‘from the favela to the world’ and is proud of his roots. He donated money to his old neighbourhood during the pandemic. ‘There is nowhere I feel better,’ he says. He also has the phrase ‘win or win’ tattooed across his chest.

Spurs can expect some brilliant play going forward but he has to learn the art of defending

Why ‘Royal’ when his name is Emerson Aparecido Leite de Souza?

He has said in the past that an auntie nicknamed him Royal because he opened his mouth so much to cry as a baby that he resembled a character that advertised Royal Jelly in Brazil in the late nineties.

What’s the Royal verdict then? 


He will be a challenge for Nuno Espirito Santo but there is plenty of raw material to work with. His new manager will be able to converse in Portuguese with him when he wants to get things across. The improvements made last season when Pellegrini took over suggest he has the capacity to take in new information and get better. He’s not 23 until the new year, the potential is exciting. He’ll love the White Hart Lane atmosphere and they’ll love his marauding runs forward. They’ll be some learning curves to navigate but it won’t be dull.

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