Ralph Hasenhuttl has offered an insight into Armando Broja’s start to life at Southampton…
The manager has admitted that the Albanian is showing signs of progression at St Mary’s after a difficult start following his loan switch from fellow Premier League side Chelsea.
Hasenhuttl told Hampshire Live: “During the first two weeks, I was looking at what he had to give for me and I did not see a lot, to be honest. I had a very serious conversation with him to tell him what I wanted to see.
“He is a little bit of a slow starter. You need to push him a little bit. He is moving in the right direction now. He is showing me what I want to see and this is very positive for me.
“The way we play is a little different to how he has played so far in his career, it is a little bit more energetic.
“I would not say that he was lazy but, in the beginning, he did not show me the qualities that he has. When you arrive at a new club you must show the qualities that you have. He has done this during the last two games. He did this against Newcastle and against West Ham. For me, this is a very good sign.”
The time has come for Hasenhuttl to take the training wheels off Broja and unleash him in the Premier League by handing him a start against Manchester City next weekend.
He has made two league appearances for the Saints this season and both of them came as a substitute. Broja was given cameos against both West Ham and Newcastle in the last two matches, particularly impressing against the former as he hit the post and won two duels from only six touches.
The 20-year-old has already shown glimpses of what he can do this term. He scored two goals and created two chances in the 8-0 win over Newport County in the Carabao Cup, whilst also going away on international duty and scoring two goals and providing two assists in two games against Hungary and San Marino.
Football talent scout Jacek Kulig hailed Broja as ‘dangerous’ earlier this summer and urged fans to keep an eye on him this season. Along with his statistics in those aforementioned matches, this suggests that he has the potential to make an impact in the final third for the Saints.
Hasenhuttl said that the 20-year-old has been a slow starter but, as he explained, the signs are now promising and it could be the right time to unleash him from the start. Let him attack Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, or John Stones, from the off and see what he is capable of producing.
Given his form in the Carabao Cup and at international level for Albania, the upside to starting Broja could be huge as he has the quality to score and create goals. The downside is that he could struggle, but Southampton are not expected to travel to the Etihad Stadium and pick up three points, so it could be the perfect low-pressure environment for him to thrive.