Ever since Victor Wanyama left Southampton, the Saints have been desperately crying out for a midfield enforcer and Ralph Hasenhuttl must be making sure he gets one this summer transfer window.
The defence was the weakest area for the club last season – especially after the arrival of the Austrian, as he was able to improve things going forward but not so much at the back.
For these reasons, the general consensus was that what the St Mary’s outfit really needed was a centre-back, though it doesn’t appear to be panning out like that as Jan Bednarek and Jan Vestergaard may well be the trusted partnership going forward given a lack of new centre-back links.
But what would be the point of putting together what could be a very promising combination moving forward, and not giving them any proper protection in central defensive midfield? Southampton’s most important signing this summer should be that enforcer.
The south coast club currently have at their disposal a horrifically unbalanced central midfield containing Mario Lemina, Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Harrison Reed and Jake Hesketh.
The only out-and-out defensive midfielder in those ranks is Romeu, and he’s far from the right style of player to act as the enforcer at the base of the midfield.
This is proven by looking at the stats of the primary defensive midfielder of the Saints in 2018/2019 Romeu and Wanyama at St. Mary’s during the 2014/2015 for example with the help of WhoScored.
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Wanyama made more tackles, interceptions, fewer fouls and more clearances on average than the much slower Romeu in comparison – he’s just not strong enough in many aspects of his game to play that role effectively.
And when we look at the amount conceded in the league by the team in those two campaigns there’s a stark contrast, just 33 with Wanyama as the enforcer and nearly double that amount (65) last season.
If the Saints want to return to that kind of solidity, they must bring in an enforcer of the Kenyan’s quality this summer and prioritise finding one over anything else.