Southampton lost 1-0 to Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday as their winless start to the campaign extended to six matches.
The Saints have drawn four and lost two of their opening six league matches, holding Manchester United, Newcastle, Manchester City and West Ham to draws, whilst losing to Everton and Wolves.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have scored four goals in those six Premier League games, with two of them coming in a 2-2 draw with the Magpies. Of those four strikes, one – Mo Elyounoussi v Newcastle – came from a wide player.
This suggests that Southampton are struggling for quality in the wide areas, with no winger for the Saints registering an assist either this term in the league. Therefore, it could be time for the Austrian head coach to unleash the rarely-seen gem Nathan Tella.
Earlier this month, Hasenhuttl explained why Tella has not been actively involved for the club in the Premier League.
“I am actually a little bit disappointed that I cannot give him more chances to play. The games that we are playing at the moment are not so perfect for him, I think.
“We saw last season that Nathan was by far the most developed of the younger group and he had a really good pre-season but, as always with young players, he must consistently work hard and show up to get those chances to play.
“I must say that, in the number ten position, he has a lot of good qualities. He is very energetic and he has a really good ability against the ball, running back and sprinting back.
“It will help him if he can get a little closer to the goal. I see him as a striker. He is an alternative for Adam Armstrong at the moment, who does a very good job as a striker.”
Whilst Hasenhuttl has said that he sees Tella as a striker, he must now consider giving him an opportunity to shine in one of the two wide number 10 roles. As he said himself, he is energetic and able to work up and down the flank, possibly offering more defensive protection for the full-backs whilst also causing problems for the opposition with his pace.
Tella could solve a key problem for Southampton if he is unleashed from the start in the Premier League if he is able to find his form. He has played two games in the League Cup this season and provided one goal and one assist, which suggests that he could have the quality to be a threat in the final third, which is what the Saints have been lacking out wide this season.
Therefore, Hasenhuttl must give him the chance to start out wide and show what he is capable of doing. If it doesn’t work then he can go back to the other players who are also struggling, but for now, it is surely worth throwing the young forward in.