Southampton Chief Executive Martin Semmens must prioritise giving Oriol Romeu a new contract this season, with the Spanish midfielder’s current deal set to expire at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
The 29-year-old has been an important part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side so far this season, having made eight appearances in the Premier League, in which he has averaged a superb 7.15 rating, which ranks him as the Saints’ fourth-best performer in the league so far this campaign (per WhoScored).
The defensive midfielder has been a regular with the South Coast club since joining from Chelsea in 2015, as he has gone on to make 198 appearances for the Saints, contributing six goals and two assists (per Transfermarkt).
Therefore, it is clear that he is a key part of Hasenhuttl’s squad and after his superb start to this season, Semmens must now ensure that the midfielder is given a well-earned new contract with the club. Otherwise, they risk losing him on a free transfer, especially as foreign clubs would be allowed to begin negotiations with him in January on a pre-contract deal.
The Spaniard is also currently one of just two defensive midfielders in the Southampton squad, following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s departure to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, which again highlights the importance of keeping him.
Ibrahima Diallo is the Saints’ only other defensive midfielder, and with just 18 minutes of Premier League action under his belt thus far, the 21-year-old is perhaps not ready to step up as a first-team regular in the event that Romeu leaves at the end of this season.
Hasenhuttl is clearly a big fan of Romeu too, as he suggested after his goal in the 2-0 win over West Brom earlier this year that:
“I have never seen a professional like him before in my entire managing career. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever seen.
“When you see him as a professional, how he reacts when he’s not first choice, it’s unbelievable. He’s always the first on the pitch, always hard-working. I think for this, they love him here.” (per Daily Echo)
Therefore, it seems clear that Semmens and the rest of the Southampton board must work hard to ensure that Romeu is rewarded with a new contract in the near future, as Hasenhuttl clearly wouldn’t be happy if he was allowed to leave on a free transfer.