What Radu Dragusin did before Romania masterclass hands Tottenham hidden transfer benefit

Tottenham defender Radu Dragusin was in top form on the big stage on Monday as Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 in the first Group E game of Euro 2024 with plenty of attacking talent to deal with.

The 22-year-old made the switch to Spurs from Genoa for £25million earlier this year, making him the most expensive Romanian footballer of all time. After playing every single minute in Serie A last season before his January move, Dragusin had to be patient at Spurs with substitute appearances here and there but ended up starting four Premier League matches before the campaign ended for Ange Postecoglou.

Bayern's Allianz Arena, known as the Munich Football Arena for the Euros due to sponsorship reasons, was where Dragusin could have ended up playing had he not rejected the German giants for the move to Tottenham in the winter window.

On Monday, the centre-back showed exactly what he will bring to Spurs as he was up against Ukraine with their attacking options, which included Arsenal-linked Girona forward Artem Dovbyk, who scored 24 goals in 36 La Liga games last season, £88.5million Chelsea star Mykhailo Mudryk and the highly-rated Georgiy Sudakov and Viktor Tsygankov, from Shakhtar Donetsk and Girona respectively.

Here is our scouting report of Dragusin's performance and our Spurs reporter Alasdair Gold's verdict on his display at the end.

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0-15 minutes

Playing on the right of the central duo, the young Romanian centre-back's first real involvement came early on with Dovbyk running in behind him on to a long ball from the left. Dragusin was fortunate as the Girona striker could not quite get the ball under control after running clear and the ball ran through the goalkeeper as the Spurs defender looked across for an offside flag that never came.

On six minutes, Dragusin made an important volleyed clearance from a dangerous cross into the edge of Romania's six-yard box.

Three minutes later and the Spurs man paid close attention to Sudakov and ushered him to the touchline and out of play. A minute on and Dragusin won a key header as Mudryk looked to run beyond him.


Dragusin has little to do during this period as Romania's strong foundation allowed their forward players to start advancing up the pitch.

That resulted in a beautiful opening goal from Nicolae Stanciu as he curled a first-time effort into the top left corner of the net to leave Ukraine stunned.


On 35 minutes, Dragusin did well after being caught slightly out of position to head a Mudryk cross up and over his own crossbar from about five yards out and then he won a header from the resulting corner.

A minute later and the Spurs man was involved again, making an important block to stop Tsygankov's shot as he ran into the box.


Dragusin first touched the ball three minutes into the second half, clearing successive crosses from Mudryk and Sudakov with ease with his imposing frame.

On 52 minutes Romania doubled their lead when Razvan Marin hit a low effort from distance that the Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin could not prevent from rolling into the bottom left corner.

Dragusin made one defensive header before Romania made it 3-0 on 56 minutes, when Denis Dragus touched home from close range.

The Spurs centre-back ended this excellent period of play for the Romanians with a crunching, strong challenge on Sudakov just inside the box which took the ball cleanly and left his country's fans chanting his name around the stadium.


With Ukraine reeling and struggling to make in-roads, Dragusin's first real touch was a good block of a header in the wall to send a free-kick well over his own crossbar.

The young defender then went on a rampaging run in the 70th minute down the left flank on a Romanian break and won a free-kick as he dribbled inside in the Ukrainian half.

Dragusin then sprinted back and made a crucial flying block from a cross in his own box and roared in celebration at his country's supporters behind the goal.


The Tottenham defender got his head to a dangerous Mudryk free-kick into the box on 79 minutes.

Dragusin made a clearance just inside the Romania box in the third minute of added time before celebrating a fantastic victory and display, Romania's first win at the Euros in 24 years.


This was a big performance from the big Romanian on the big stage and he was a key building block of what his country's impressive victory was built upon, forming a strong partnership with the experienced Andrei Burca, who plays for Saudi side Al-Okhdood.

Dragusin racked up a remarkable 10 clearances during the game, double Burca's tally, and the 22-year-old also managed to block two shots, make one interception, won two aerial duels and had an 88.9% pass success rate.

Brentford boss and BBC pundit Thomas Frank said at half-time: "Dragusin and Burca, the two centre-backs, they've been fantastic."

After Dragusin barged past Dovbyk to congratulate Burca on shutting out the Ukraine striker, his co-pundit and former Wales centre-back Ashley Williams said: "I like to see that celebrating. Today central defenders are being judged on how they can play out from the back and these two boys can as well but to see two centre-halves do something that we all think is a small thing, do some good defending, and celebrate together. He's a big unit (Dovbyk) but they're dealing with him and they're enjoying it."

In the second half, Dragusin only became more assured, dealing with everything that Ukraine's considerable attacking talent could throw at him and the Romanian backline.

The 22-year-old looked calm and composed on the ball and imperious without it and precious little got past his attention. He celebrated every big defensive moment like a goal, something he might just have picked up from his Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, who encourages that from his defenders.

He was also involved going forward with one sparkling run, something Spurs fans have already seen from him before in the Premier League.

The BBC co-commentator and former Everton attacker James McFadden revealed that before the game Dragusin had been involved with Romania's forward players with their crosses and finishing drills, a fascinating little insight into how he gets involved and shows a desire to improve his all-round game.

Williams added after the game on Dragusin: "He was my man of the match. I thought he was excellent. He grew and grew into the game."

This was an important day for Dragusin at his first European Championships and it showed exactly how good a young centre-back Postecoglou has among his options for the season ahead and he can only get better.

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