Cristian Romero: Things to know about the Argentine defender

Romero could be on his way to the Premier League
Romero could be on his way to the Premier League / Insidefoto/Getty Images

The transfer news cycle and its short attention span has struck again.

Just weeks after Manchester United were being tipped to sign Atalanta defender Cristian Romero, it appears Tottenham have moved into pole position.

The Argentine centre-back is hot property after capping off a stellar Serie A season by winning the Copa America, and his arrival would certainly be a step in the right direction for Nuno Espirito Santo as he looks to get his new Spurs side into shape.

But who is Romero? And what can Tottenham fans expect if he arrives in north London?

Here's all you need to know.

1. South American champion

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021
Romero kisses the Copa America trophy / MB Media/Getty Images

Last month, Romero realised his long-term goal of playing for Argentina. Just five caps later, he's a South American champion.

The 23-year-old went to Copa America with his country and established himself as a starter with strong performances against Uruguay and Paraguay in the group stage. Injury then struck, but he returned for the final when they beat Brazil to win the famous trophy.

Argentina didn't concede a goal in Romero's 259 minutes on the pitch, which just about says it all.

2. Stand-out in Serie A

If you're wondering what all the fuss is about with Romero, it's because he's just come off the back of a very, very good season.

Atalanta aren't exactly known for their robust defence, but they had the fifth best record in Serie A last term - thanks in large part to Romero's inspirational displays.

He was named Serie A defender of the year for 2020/21, and made the second most interceptions of any player in the division, behind Torino's Bremer.

3. Old-school centre-back

While Romero is adept at playing the ball out from the back, his real strengths lie in the more traditional aspects of defending.

He's a brick wall, and despite his not-quite-towering 6'1 frame, he is a monster in the air.

He literally never loses a header, and his 3.8 aerial duels won per game is better than any Spurs player, including Eric Dier (3.1), Davinson Sanchez (2.7) and Toby Alderweireld (1.8).

4. Likes a booking

Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniele Doveri, Cristian Romero
Romero in his natural element / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Romero is lauded for his aggressive, old-school Argentina style of defending, is that he's a regular feature in the referee's book.

He notched 21 yellow cards in all competitions last season and was sent off twice, hinting that discipline may be the major drawback in his game.

5. He's a Chelsea fan

Romero has been heavily linked with Tottenham and Manchester United, but he prefers Chelsea, according to Genoa legend Claudio Onofri.

Onofri is a commentator on Italian TV and frequently waxed lyrical about the defender back when he played for Genoa.

In 2019, he let it slip that Romero is a 'fan of Chelsea' - though it's unclear if he meant he supports them, or if he was just a fan of their football in general.

"If he were to leave Genoa one day, he’s a fan of Chelsea, just to give an example," Onofri said.

6. Never actually played for Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo, Cristian Romero
Romero has made more appearances against Juventus than for them / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Genoa signed Romero from Argentine side Belgrano in 2018, and after impressive debut season in Serie A, Juventus swooped in and signed him on a €26m deal.

He spent the 2019/20 season on loan back at Genoa, and after he returned to Juve, he was sent out to Atalanta.

La Dea maintain an option to buy in the deal, and they look set to trigger it and sell him on for a quick profit this summer. It means Romero has been a Juventus player for two years, but will leave without making a single appearance for them.

7. Suited to Nuno

Nuno Espirito Santo
Santo loves a three-at-the-back / Paul Harding/Getty Images

It's no secret that Nuno Espirito Santo loves a back three. He hasn't used it with Spurs in pre-season yet, but it was his tactical identity at Wolves, and it seems likely he'll go back to it at one stage or another in north London.

The signing of Romero certainly seems to point in that direction. He's well accustomed to playing in three-defender formations, having done so extensively with Atalanta and Genoa.

He's at his best on the right of the three, but his commanding aerial presence means he can play in the centre without missing a beat.