Emerson Royal signed for Tottenham Hotspur this summer, but under a different manager and in vastly different circumstances. Signed from Barcelona near the end of the transfer window to play for Nuno Espirito Santo, the Brazilian fullback has ended up playing wing back under Antonio Conte, to decidedly mixed results.
That’s not entirely his fault, of course. Royal has shown to be a capable defender, and while his offensive output has been pretty disappointing in multiple matches this season, he’s also very young and with a high ceiling. That said, he’s very clearly not a player in the mold of what Conte hopes and wants out of a wingback.
So we probably shouldn’t be surprised to see that Royal is already starting to show up in the early transfer rumors coming out of Spain. Today, MARCA has a report suggesting that Royal is a player of interest to Atletico Madrid in La Liga, in addition to Inter Milan in Serie A.
There isn’t a ton of info here. MARCA notes that Atletico had an interest in him last summer after Emerson’s loan at Real Betis, so it feels natural that they’d maintain an interest in him, assuming Tottenham would have interest in cutting bait on him so early on in his tenure. The article suggests that he’d be open to returning to Spain to play football, but that Atletico and Spurs would (obviously) need to come to an agreement.
Would they? It’s not impossible. Even with Matt Doherty playing like the Irish Cafu right now, right wing back is still an area of big concern, as evidence by Spurs’ flirtation with Adama Traore. I don’t think Royal is a bad player, but I do think he’s a bad fit for Antonio Conte’s tactics, and that might be enough to part ways with him, assuming Spurs can recruit and sign an effective replacement. Whether Spurs find a more suitable wing back is as of yet an open question, but kind of comforting to know that there appears to be a market for Royal if Tottenham do find a player they like more.