Michael Obafemi enjoyed a breakthrough season with Southampton during the 2019/20 campaign as he made 22 appearances in the top-flight, but this season has been a lot less fruitful for the 20-year-old and Ralph Hasenhuttl should consider loaning him out.
In his 22 Premier League appearances last season, the striker was able to contribute a fairly impressive three goals and two assists (per WhoScored), so it was perhaps expected that he would continue to feature for the Saints this season.
However, this season has seen him manage just 13 minutes of Premier League action, as well as just six minutes in the Carabao Cup, suggesting that the Austrian manager currently has no plans to give him a starting berth in his squad.
Considering the form of both Danny Ings and Che Adams this season, this is perhaps unsurprising, whilst the loan signing of Theo Walcott means that it was also perhaps unlikely that he was going to be a regular for the South Coast club this season.
That being said, fellow academy prospect Dan N’Lundulu has also featured in the top-flight this season and has been on the bench for two other fixtures (per Transfermarkt), suggesting that he may well have moved above Obafemi in the pecking order.
As a result, the Ireland U21 international should perhaps be sent out on loan, as to ensure that his progress isn’t stifled too much by sitting on the bench for the Saints.
Considering he has already made 29 appearances in the Premier League in his career, there would surely be no shortage of interest in the striker from sides in the Championship, and perhaps a loan to the second division would help him realise his potential.
Hasenhuttl admitted earlier this season that:
“The problem with Michael was always he would play one good game and then fall back a little bit and was not professional enough to force or keep his position in the team or in the squad.
“This makes it too easy for others to go above him. I think this is what he must learn.
“Once he is in the squad, don’t give it away so easily and try to be aggressive and dangerous in front of the goal.
“I think this is something he misses, but he’s young, he still has to learn a lot and this is a kind of mentality but is also a kind of quality.” (per Hampshire Live)
Therefore, it seems clear that the Austrian manager is not fully convinced by Obafemi and a positive loan spell could be just what the Irishman needs to regain his confidence and put him back into Hasenhuttl’s good books.