Pozo is a 21 year old Spanish player who plays for Mallorca on loan from Sevilla. This season is his first in La Liga and is being retrained into a right back. Previously he’d mainly played as a 10 but also a lot on either wing. Last season he was on loan at Granada who he helped get promoted.
He’s a raw, technical, athletic full back with a slim build. He reminds me of Jesus Navas, and could be a good replacement for him at Sevilla. He’s only 21 and has captained the Spanish U21 team.
Physically, he’s a good athelte. He has good acceleration and a great top speed. He’s agile and uses feints well in his game. His change of direction was pretty good and his change of pace was good at times but a few times a sharp change of direction from his opposite man was a problem and it took a while to slow from his top speed. The full back is quick of the mark and is good at knocking the ball past opponents and driving into space.
He’s hard working with high intensity, he tracked back really well with high speed recovery runs. But, these did tend to drop off slightly later in the match. He hassled the opposition, pressing into the midfield and pressuring the ball from behind. Pozo was energetic and chased the ball like a dog at times in tight situations like the man in the middle of a rondo.
The Spaniard has a slim build and stands at 5’9″. He was fairly weak and got pushed off the ball and lost shoulder-to-shoulder collisions too easily at times. He lacked aggression and didn’t try to be physical enough. Adding some muscle would probably benefit him and his confidence.
He’s a direct player who wants to carry the ball and drive at the defence when the chance is available, making 1.5 progressive runs. His touch wasn’t the best, getting under the ball too much which made it awkward for him at times. This could put him in trouble against high pressing teams, although he dealt with pressure well. He used feints and then takes a touch into space away from the pressing player and able to make quick passes in tight situations.
He is two footed and uses both feet to dribble, allowing him to be more unpredictable and able to change direction easier. Pozo likes to carry at good speed and is able to vary the weight of his touches to change speed but doesn’t tend to dribble at a slow pace with the ball very tight, using laces to control the ball, the type of ball control you see from tricky wingers as they drive at a defender before using a skill and accelerating. He used feints well and liked to dribble inside. He carried well on the counter attack and was good at springing fast breaks after winning possession.
Mallorca have used him mostly as a full back since he joined him in January but as a wing back in their most recent match against Eibar. Once the season restarts, we’ll see if that system is continued to be used. I thought he worked better as a full back with a winger ahead of him, his overlapping runs were effective and he played some nice lofted balls down the line to the winger between the lines. It also opened up more space for him to run into and to have more time when he had the ball in the final third.
Pozo always received the ball very wide, sometimes then carrying inside. But hugged the touchline mainly and it worked well to have a player ahead of him who could occupy the half space or make runs down the line. He made darting overlapping runs and was good at identifying space and running into it, but wasn’t found enough by teammates. Possibly, he wasn’t loud enough and you have to feel in a stronger team that that sort of situation is better exploited.
His passing was plain with average technique which could be more crisp and sometimes hit with some more speed. He made good inside passes to the defensive midfielders in buildup and linked with his winger well. The full back made some nice longer range passes to players between the lines or to the far centre half, but was vulnerable to a mistake and giving the ball away in dangerous areas as well as some sloppy passes straight into defenders. He makes 8.2 progressive passes which is fairly average, for example Jesus Navas makes 11.8 for Sevilla.
Two areas of Pozo’s game need to be improved the most; crossing and defending. He would also benefit from more physicality and better decision making also his first touch and passing could be cleaner but these are things that will come with time. Mentally I also felt he lost concentration a few times defensively and would lose his man or be too static. But he is playing a new position completely so being asked to defend a lot more for 90 minutes is new to him.
His crossing is quite poor. This season he’s attempted 3.8 crosses per 90. He often hits them first time when they’re too underneath him and can feel quite rushed. They can lack direction and go for goal kicks or, the decision/execution of the correct cross is wrong and fails to really threaten goal. He’s played a lot of games as a winger but really needs to improve this part of his game to get to the next level where full backs are usually expected to create more chances and be a crossing threat.
He is new to the position and previously mainly played as a number 10. In 1v1s he’s too forward facing and needs to work on his body position. He is athletic and has fast feet but his footwork can seem erratic even if it isn’t that bad. He is quick and is able to stay very tight to his man, he makes it difficult for the opposition to get crosses off or dribble. He doesn’t dive in but stays so close that he does well to win the ball but it isn’t traditional defending technique you normally see. But against more capable wingers who can create space with great change of directions he struggles. For example, he was beaten too easily for Joaquín’s goal in their 3–3 draw against Real Betis.
His defensive positioning was fine but sometimes a little off, usually due to concentration. He was typical of a young defender and was at times too keen to press out of the line into midfield. He did have good anticipation though and was able to read passes to his man quite well and made some good interceptions which he was able to turn into counter attacks.
Since only joining Mallorca in January the sample size is small but his radar is good with very strong defensive output and good dribbling but fairly disappointing passing. He has 1 assist this season, a driving counter attack ending in a simple pass to Kubo on the edge of the box who finished it.
Overall, Pozo is an exciting prospect. He’s raw and needs time to spend to learn the position better but he’s got a strong athletic profile and has a lot of potential. Next season, whenever it comes, he’ll benefit from another loan and getting more minutes at right back before being included in the Sevilla first team. But with Jesus Navas being 34, they might have to use him as sooner.
He’s got parts of his game to improve before he’s ready for a top side or a bigger move but the potential is there and hopefully we’ll see him reach it over the next few seasons.