Robert Navarro is a 20-year-old Spaniard that plays for Real Sociedad. He is versatile in attack with the ability to play attacking midfield and both winger positions. In the Copa del Rey, where Navarro has scored four goals in five appearances, he mostly played right winger. Overall, the Spaniard has played the most as attacking midfielder and is beginning to break into the first team in La Liga, too.
Navarro stands at 178 cm tall with average height and build. Despite not having the most filled out frame yet, he still brings some physicality in duels. Navarro brings immense pace in short bursts and decent change of direction, too. His second gear really shows itself when he ball carries down the wing and beats the defence with pace. Navarro does not use much energy off ball as he sprints very few times and is mostly jogging or standing still. This seems to reserve stamina for his short bursts of pace in the final third and on those long ball carries in transition.
When his squad is settled in possession, Navarro likes to receive short in holes in the defense. He then uses his technical dribbling ability and a burst of pace to advance while cutting inside. Navarro has above average ball control for a winger. His skill moves when cutting inside and up field on ball carries are made quickly. Overall, he has more flair than control in his dribbling style. When in transition, Navarro comes short into midfield to link up play or makes wide runs down the flanks. As he gets closer to the opposition box, he begins to use flashy bursts of pace on inverted runs. He makes them in intelligent spaces to cut through the defense and receive an entry pass where he loves to take a dribble or two and fire a power shot. His finishing has been quite consistent inside the box and usually challenge the keeper when they do not score. His presence in the box and attackers’ awareness put him in the right place to be a key threat to the goalkeeper.
Navarro is very reliant on his right foot as a distributor and shooter, but he has excellent accuracy due to that. I would like to see him get his left more involved to supplement his right’s precision. He puts the right weight on the ball most times and it helps him create through balls and cross field passes, although Navarro does need to become more consistent. Navarro’s crosses with his right foot are his poorest pass in distribution and his main weakness. His accuracy on crosses needs some work, so it leads to him leaning on his abilities cutting inside approaching the final third. Additionally, he looks to draw fouls and can do so multiple times in a match all while showing decent ability on headers.
Defensively, Navarro adapts to the tactics needed from him situationally. In tactical presses, he utilized his pace well and closed down on opponents quickly. With this tactical pressure he often splits the center backs as an attacking midfielder to force the ball back toward the goal line. Sociedad’s high press allows him to utilize his pace frequently, although he does not always put all his effort into it. Navarro will also drop deep into defense to provide cover. This allows him to get blocks at times as he stands in passing lanes or closes space along the wing. When tracking back in recovery, Navarro has admirable stand tackling prowess for an attacker.
From a tactical standpoint, the Spaniard thrives as an inverted winger attacking the middle of the pitch or as an attacking midfielder linking play in the middle and finding holes in the defense to create or score from. Navarro has some ability to operate out wide, but he is at his best accessing central areas. He would be best suited in a high tempo attack where he both cuts inside in possession and takes advantage of his pace and timeliness on runs in transition. Navarro’s technique and quickness lends to the Spanish style that he has grown up in.
As he continues to earn more playing time in the Real Sociedad first team, the more it will become evident to bigger clubs the talent that is present in Navarro. His attacking technique as a finisher, distributor, and dribbler are all mature for his age and will more than help him get by at La Liga level. His athleticism is not holding him back either, but other intangibles like overall activity and effort are lacking at times. Navarro has the tools and potential that only more playing time at a challenging level can unlock. If he continues on the form he has shown this season, he could play himself into a future with Sociedad. New signing Brais Méndez will likely be all that stands in his way at his preferred positions for playing time after this season—David Silva is 37 and expect Sociedad to cash in on Mikel Oyarzabal sooner than later.