Opinion: Cristian Romero has matured and Spurs are all the better for it

‘A red card waiting to happen’ was always the dark cloud over Cristian Romero becoming a world-class centre-back. No longer is that the case, however, as the Argentinian has embraced a leadership role and is much more composed.

Not only that, but the co-captain has authority and dominance on the pitch over the style of football. An Ange Postecoglou side without Romero is sub-standard and sometimes clumsy, as his time out accentuated.

The end of last season demonstrated a hot-headed defender who was discontented with the style of play under Antonio Conte, and to be fair, he was not alone in that.

Tottenham conceded 62 goals in the Premier League last season, the second-most goals in a domestic campaign since 1992/93 (Premier League). Of course, that is irritating, particularly for a player who holds himself to such a high standard.

He was furious and hot-headed at the latter stage of last season. The red card against AC Milan was an act of brainlessness, he conceded a penalty against Liverpool and was throwing himself into tiffs with the opposition regularly.

It is not as if Romero was instantly calm and composed when August arrived and the new season began, this was a learning curve process where it appears he has learnt to reduce the number of yellow cards and prevent arguments and physical reactions to the opposition. He is no longer easily rattled.

What is the reason? The most explainable theory is Ange naming him as co-captain. He is only 25 years old, so that is some responsibility. This must have been a deliberate choice to take some accountability for his actions. The squad is young, so he must lead by example.

He has demonstrated change. Last season, he amassed 11 yellow cards, with only four this season by comparison (TransferMarkt). He has targeted to reduce that number and now displays an ability to lead and control his behaviour, which Spurs are much better for.

Cristian Romero
Credit: Ollie Watkins (@watkinsstudio)

Has Cristian Romero finally matured at Tottenham?

He has zero yellow cards so far this year and was speaking in the recent matchday programme for the Premier League game against Crystal Palace and confirmed he had been working to improve his discipline.

He said: “It’s something I’ve worked on. I’ve realised I’ve been picking up too many cards at some points here and there. When you’re a defender, you have to tackle, my style has lent itself to picking up cards in the past.

“Through working on it you can try to eradicate certain things, maybe daft yellow cards for protesting too much, or clashing with someone. With the style of defender I am, those clashes can be unavoidable sometimes if you have a face-off with someone.

“I respect every opponent and team I play against and whatever clash happens it stays on the field. I’ve been working on it and hopefully eradicating some of those cards.”

Cristian Romero, despite being a defender, is a threat creator in the opposition half, new Opta stats have shown.

A data scientist on X, JK Football Analytics has posted a grid which contains 30 zones on the pitch which contains the Premier League players who are the top threat creators in each zone. The expected threat (xT) stat includes data from carries, dribbles, and in-play passes.

Coming in at just over the halfway line and to the right is the Tottenham co-captain, Romero with 0.028 xT. It is a space in which the Argentinian regularly operates during the build-up to attacks.

He is the only centre-back in the opposition half, which is a credit to his know-how in recovery and defensive intelligence.

Romero is relishing the challenge of leadership and control and the transition from the loco player who is always in the book to one of the calmest, unagitated players on the pitch is only going to assist Spurs.

The goalscoring is a bonus too. He has four this season in the league, the most of any centre-back. A genuine player of the year contender in N17.

A solid co-captain, and arguably a future captain. Cristian Romero has gone from undisciplined to a disciplinarian in the Spurs squad.

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