Yuri Berchiche Izeta, or Yuri as he is more widely known, started his footballing career at the tender age of 16 when he signed for Basque club Athletic Bilbao. A host of good performances earned him a transfer to further his development with Tottenham Hotspur. While with the North London club, Berchiche played a pivotal role for the under-18 team, winning the Eurofootb Tournament and earning “Player of the Tournament” honors in the process. Berchiche bounced around England and Spain for the next two years on loan before he was released by Spurs and signed for Real Unión in 2010 with hopes of finding more stability.
Berchiche made 45 appearances with the third-division side and earned yet another permanent move to Real Sociedad–who then loaned him to Eibar. The defender helped Eibar achieve promotion to the first division for the first time in their history and earned a spot in the Liga de Futbol Profesional’s ideal XI for the season. In 2014, the Spaniard was finally able to reunite with his boyhood but this time he was promoted to the first team. Berchiche made a total of 77 appearances for Real Sociedad and quickly became their most trustworthy option at left-back.
The 27-year-old became Paris Saint-Germain’s first signing of the summer transfer window on July 7, 2017 when he signed a 4-year contract. The signing came as a surprise to many considering the Spaniard is mostly a low-profile figure within world football and his age. Combine these facts with the elevated fee that was required (reported €16 million) and you might think new sporting director Antero Henrique may have reached. However, if you look a little deeper at the player you can see why Berchiche is a magnificent addition to the squad.
One of Berchiche’s top assets is his imposing physique and physical condition. Known as El Imperturbable (The Unshakeable) back in his homeland, the left-back has shown for three seasons why his body is up for any task. Not only was Berchiche the most often used outfield player with Sociedad, but during his time with La Real, he had to defend against the likes of Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Rafinha, and Arda Turan, all which roam his left-side of the pitch in attack. Every time though, Berchiche excelled in his role not only by defending but also by attacking when given the opportunity. The physical condition required to be able to attack but also defend is something only a few fullbacks know of, and Yuri has been able to produce these displays for one of the best teams in La Liga for a few seasons.
Calm and Composed
One of the most important ways to stop your team from conceding goals is reducing errors and Berchiche excels at this. The Spaniard has faced the best in the world and knows that on the world stage, one mistake and you will be punished. WhoScored.com rates aerial duels, holding on to the ball, and ball interceptions as his strengths with no significant weaknesses. PSG has been haunted by defensive mistakes in recent seasons so a mentally strong defender (especially one familiar with FC Barcelona) seems like a positive signing.
Everyone knows (or should know) that the Spanish league is the toughest in the world. The best players in football ply their trade in La Liga and their clubs have dominated European competitions for years now. Even under these conditions, Yuri scored 3 goals and recorded 2 assists in 39 appearances last season for a team that battled to a very respectable sixth place finish. At PSG, Yuri will have more talent surrounding him than ever before. Time will tell but the first signing of the Henrique-era could turn out to be one of the best in recent memory.