This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Yan Valery is certainly not one of the first names on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s teamsheet right now.
That much was evidenced when Cedric Soares was forced to pull out of the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham during the warm up, and instead of calling on a natural right-sided defender in Valery to replace him, Hasenhuttl instead turned to James Ward-Prowse, a centre-midfielder by trade.
Southampton fans called for the young Frenchman’s inclusion for the next game against Chelsea, and the former RB Leipzig boss duly obliged by handing the 20-year-old a fourth Premier League start of the season.
And while he didn’t set the world alight in the 4-1 loss, there were two moments that suggested Valery may be better suited to a wing-back role, rather than a right-back in a flat back four…
We saw the France Under-18 international at his attacking best in the build-up to Southampton’s one and only goal against the Blues.
Valery embarked on a brave but mesmeric dribble to beat six Chelsea players in total down the right flank – one of three completed dribbles from the youngster – before crossing with accuracy towards the feet of Ings, who gratefully prodded home.
After his moment of brilliance, we saw a moment of stark contrast in which Valery showed why he can be a defensive liability.
In the build-up to N’Golo Kante’s goal, Jorginho clipped a ball out to Marcos Alonso, who was in an unbelievable amount of space on the left wing.
Why? Because Valery had surged out of his position to get tight to Callum Hudson-Odoi – we can only presume that the Southampton man thought Jorginho was going to play it into the England international’s feet.
The rush of blood allowed Alonso to stroll forward and play the ball to Kante, who found the net via a deflection.
All in all, these two moments sum up why Valery would be much better suited to a wing-back role rather than on the right of a flat back four – his attacking qualities would shine and his defensive negligence would be better hidden if he was consistently played as a wing-back with three central defenders covering.