Name: Radu Drăgușin
Position(s): CB, RB
Preferred Foot: Right
Strengths: box defending, aerial dominance, physicality, 1v1s, leadership, duels, long passing
Areas for development: passing consistency
After bouncing back to Serie A under Alberto Gilardino, Genoa have enjoyed a promising return to the Italian top-flight, having beaten Lazio and Roma and taken points off Juventus and Napoli. They sit 14th in the table, and with just 21 goals conceded, they have the best defense in Serie A’s bottom half after Lazio (18), who sit 11th. One of the biggest reasons for their stalwart defensive record is Radu Drăgușin.
Drăgușin was just 16 years old when he left Romania and made the move to Juventus, quickly working his way up the academy ranks and making four appearances for the first team under Andrea Pirlo, before being sent out on loan to Sampdoria and Salernitana. Unable to make an impact in the top-flight, he went to Serie B and joined Genoa on loan, later made permanent for €5.5 million plus €1.8 million, amassing 40 appearances as Genoa earned an immediate return to Serie A.
A physical beast of a center back, he is a commanding presence at the back who fights for his team. A player who’s a leader at the back for Genoa and Romania, he is a warrior at the back who’ll put his body on the line to protect the goal. Drăgușin is a defender who dominates his box, cleans up danger and wins the majority of his aerial duels. His overall stats back this up with 5.17 clearances (top 9%) & 66.7% of aerial duels won (2.67/4) — he takes ownership of the box to protect it.
Drăgușin has previously played as a right-sided center back in a back 3/5 with attacking wing-backs which has enabled him to develop his defending in wide areas. A key component of a good high-line defender is someone who can cover plenty of space, and he certainly has the speed to do so. Another aspect of defending well in wide areas is 1v1 defending, capable of anticipating through balls, holding off opposing forwards and knowing the right moment to put a foot in or deliver a well-timed slide tackle to prevent a counter-attack.
The 21-year-old is a strong ball-carrier due to his physicality and decent dribbling. He also has demonstrated good long passing ability, but he is inconsistent with his passing ability, hence having only 80.6% pass accuracy this season. That being said, Drăgușin does look to break the lines with his passing and play long passes over the top of the opponent’s defence. But with an average possession of 40.4%, it goes without saying that his passing volume is fairly low with 29.8 completed passes out of an average of 37.0 attempts per match.
He doesn’t get the opportunity to show his on-the-ball ability as often and mainly operates in a low block, but he’s certainly capable of building out from the back with his impressive passing. It’s little wonder that Drăgușin is already being linked with a big move in the January transfer window, with Arsenal, Tottenham, Barcelona, and Manchester United reportedly showing interest.
Having made his international debut in March 2022 under Edward Iordănescu, Drăgușin started all 10 matches as the Tricolorii topped Group I in Euro qualifying with six wins and four draws, and he’ll be looking to lead them to the knockout round for the first time since 2000 in next summer’s tournament. At 21, it seems to be only a matter of time before he replaces 30-year-old Nicolae Stanciu as the captain of the Romania national team.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Ivan Romano / Getty Images