Pervis Estupiñán: Brighton’s Ecuadorian Left Back

It’s common knowledge by now that Brighton have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the transfer market, and in Ecuadorian Pervis Estupiñán, they appear to have pulled off yet another masterstroke. It seemed as though replacing Marc Cucurella, whom they sold to Chelsea for £62m in the summer, would be one of Brighton’s toughest asks. But once again, the Seagulls had all the answers, doing business on their terms before bringing in a replacement for a fraction of the price. 


Born in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, Estupiñán joined Watford in 2016 before being loaned out to Granada, Almeria and Mallorca. He emerged as a revelation at left back for newly promoted Osasuna, but when Watford attempted to bring him back, he refused. With one year left on his deal, he eschewed Championship football and made the move to Villarreal, who signed him for £15 million.


He filled the void of Alberto Moreno following the ex Liverpool man’s ACL injury in preseason, playing a key role at left back as Villarreal finished seventh and won the Europa League. The following year, they finished seventh and reached the Champions League semifinals, with Estupiñan offering pace and panache as well as the capability to whip in a deadly cross. These performances alerted the attention of various English sides, but it was Brighton Hove & Albion who won the race for him, signing him to a five-year deal on August 16, 2022.


Kaoru Mitoma: Brighton’s Japanese Unicorn in Attack


Estupiñán arrived from Villarreal for £15 million, and despite being a member of one of Europe’s meanest defences last season – only Real Madrid, Sevilla, and Athletic Club conceded fewer goals in La Liga last season (37), the left-back’s combative attacking style is what has bought him so many admirers on the south coast. With a rangy, athletic build, Estupiñan gets up in support of his teammates on any given occasion, offering an option on the overlap. 


His ability to then either stand a ball up to the back post or flash it across the area has seen him rack up three assists in the Premier League, though he is currently performing below his expected assists tally of 3.6. The former Watford man is tenacious in the tackle and is vital to Brighton maintaining pressure, even after the ball is lost. 


The 25-year-old’s boundless energy is not confined to the final third either, and this allows Brighton to seamlessly transition from defence to attack through quick interchanges with fellow countryman Moisés Caicedo and Brighton’s jewel in the crown, Kaoru Mitoma. The trio have struck up a useful partnership, with Caicedo offering a passing option before covering for Estupiñán whilst he bursts upfield to assist Mitoma.


Caicedo’s role in this sequence is key, for it allows Estupiñán to stretch his legs without having to worry about taking his man on with the ball. Despite a high take-on success rate during his time in Spain, he has clearly been instructed to take a more cautious approach in possession – he only completes 0.57 take-ons per90 for Brighton, as a means of cutting down on the high volume of turnovers he was incurring as a result. 


Moises Caicedo – Meteoric Feels Insufficient


This tactical tweak has been beneficial to both player and club, with Estupiñán now able to make a more telling impression in both boxes. Not only a ferocious attacking threat, the Ecuadorian also uses his pace and strength to make up ground and get himself between the man and the ball. His last-minute recovery tackle on Bournemouth’s Antonine Semenyo virtually ensured Brighton took home all three points and played a role in crowning him Brighton’s February Player of the Month. 


With Tariq Lamptey and Pascal Gross currently offering makeshift replacements for Estupiñán, Roberto De Zerbi will be keen to bring in cover for the left-back. A protracted move for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matviienko fell through in January, and Brighton may well return for his services in the summer. But for now, De Zerbi is going to have to carefully manage his workload to ensure Brighton remain on track for a historic end to the season.


By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Justin Setterfield / Getty Images