De Zerbi delighted to have Estupinan back

Head coach believes defender is continually improving.

By Bruce Talbot • 06 January 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Pervis Estupinan helped Albion keep a clean sheet on his first start since September against West Ham.

Roberto De Zerbi believes there aren’t many better left-backs than Pervis Estupinan.

The 25-year-old made his first Premier League start since last September when he helped Albion keep their first clean sheet of the season in Tuesday’s goalless draw at West Ham.

It came four days after he marked his return from injury with a spectacular long-range goal in the 4-2 win over Tottenham after coming on as a half-time substitute – his first minutes since the 2-0 win away to Ajax in the Europa League in November.

Ahead of today’s Emirates FA Cup third round tie at Stoke City, De Zerbi was asked if Estupinan was an under-rated player.

“Yes, but his improvement now is clear for everyone. There are not too many left-backs as good as Pervis Estupinan at this moment," said De Zerbi. 

“[He is] very, very important to us. He played a great second half at West Ham, the first half as well, but maybe his position wasn’t the best position for him in that situation.

“In the second half he played more or less in the same position but ten metres further inside, with great line pass(es). Playing three defenders with one of the three a full-back I think can give us something more than Igor, for example. He (Pervis) can attack better than Igor, he can find different solutions. I'm very happy when I can play with Pervis.”


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Roberto De Zerbi's Stoke City press conference

De Zerbi says he is happy with his fullback options at the moment, despite the absence through injury of Joel Veltman and Tariq Lamptey.

“At full-back we can play Jack (Hinshelwood), Pascal Gross, James Milner. Igor played very well there three or four times. I hope we can play again with Tariq (Lamptey), because Tariq is another important player like Joel Veltman.”

De Zerbi expects a tough test at the bet365 Stadium today against a Stoke team unbeaten in four games under their new manager Steven Schumacher. Albion won there 1-0 last season en route to the semi-final.

“Stoke are playing well, they played for 25 minutes against Ipswich with ten men without losing,” he added. “They are an aggressive team with a clear style in terms of ball possession. It will be another tough game, but we will fight for 90 minutes.”