New Southampton signing Ibrahima Diallo is ready to make his mark on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side after his inspired comments ahead of his Saints debut. The 21-year-old will be fighting for a spot in the squad over usual choice Oriol Romeu, but he believes he’s up for taking on the challenge.
Speaking to French outlet L’Equipe (via Sport Witness), Diallo expressed his determination ahead of an exciting new chapter in his career.
“I didn’t make a choice foolishly out of emotion. I’ve thought about it for a long time and whatever happens, I know I won’t regret it,” the midfielder said. “If I didn’t feel ready, I wouldn’t have made that choice. Of course I feel ready, I am determined to face this challenge.”
After losing key player Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, the Saints were looking to recruit someone who would do a solid job of replacing him. After being linked to both Diallo and Liverpool’s Marko Grujic, Southampton struck a deal for the former Brest man, who joins on a four-year deal.
Diallo may edge Romeu out of the team as he brings with him some impressive statistics. According to WhoScored last season, the Frenchman tallied a higher passing percentage (86%) to the Spaniard’s 80.7%. Romeu was also outperformed by the new Saints signing in terms of tackles made and how many times the players were dribbled past each game.
Diallo made two tackles per match and was dribbled past 0.9 times on average, compared to Romeu’s 1.8 tackles and 1.6 times dribbled past per 90 minutes.
It will be a tough decision for Hasenhuttl to make as Southampton look to climb the table this season. Diallo’s youth and hunger to play could bring a refreshing change of dynamic to the midfield, but 29-year-old Romeu hasn’t missed a single game this season and has netted a goal already as well (via Transfermarkt).
Perhaps the Austrian can find room for both, but it may take a lot of trial and error as Hasenhuttl experiments with his new personnel.