It has been quite a rise for Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico over the past couple of seasons. With injuries to the club’s starting goalkeepers Beto and Mariano Barbosa at the beginning of the 2014 season, Seville native Rico was promoted to the first team from the reserves and has not looked back since.
Rico was relegated to the bench in the September of the 2014-15 campaign when the veteran Beto returned from injury, but with the Portuguese player picking up another injury in February 2015, Rico started in goals for the remainder of the season, winning the Europa League with Sevilla and even earning a call-up to the Spain squad for the May matches against Costa Rica and Belarus, even if he did not actually play.
He is yet to make his Spain debut, but with his excellent performances in goal for Sevilla, Rico has consistently been called up to the Spain squad over the past season and he has a good chance of going to Euro 2016 as the backup to David de Gea and Iker Casillas. It would certainly be a deserved inclusion for the 22-year-old, who has made the fourth most saves in La Liga this season. At 1.95m, Rico is a giant in goal and has lightning reactions.
Yet he is more than just a shot-stopper. For such a young ‘keeper, Rico’s decision-making is generally spot on. He knows where to position himself, where to position his defence, when to leave a cross and when to come and collect one. He has a 100% success rate in La Liga this season when he attempts to collect aerial balls, collecting 68 out of 68. To put that into perspective, only three other goalkeepers have a 100% record after making more than 50 attempts this season, Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas, Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak and Granada’s Andres Fernandez. He is certainly in good company.
So if those are Sergio Rico’s strengths, what are his weaknesses and would they be enough to keep him out of Del Bosque’s squad this summer? Well, one of the main downsides with Rico is that his distribution isn’t great, which is especially important if playing in goal for Spain, a team that values possession so highly. His distribution in the league from goal kicks this season is just 56%, while his distribution from his hands is even lower at 27%. Another issue with Rico is his consistency. His ceiling is very high, but he does not always play to his potential and is prone to an error or two.
These weaknesses, however, should not worry Del Bosque enough to keep Sergio Rico out of the Spain squad. He won’t be Spain’s starter, but is certainly good enough to provide cover. The fact that he is just 22-years-old also makes it likely that he’ll be selected, as Spain know he’s one for the future and will want him to get that major tournament experience under his belt.