Southampton were rocked by the news earlier this week that Danny Ings has rejected a new contract with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side and therefore, that he could depart St Mary’s this summer, but the Austrian manager may have a ready-made replacement in Nathan Tella.
As per The Athletic, Ings rejected the offer of a new four-year contract with Hasenhuttl’s side that would have made him the highest-paid player at the club, as he still holds aspirations of playing for a Premier League side playing in Europe in the near future.
His current contract is set to expire at the end of next season, which suggests that Hasenhuttl may well be forced to cash in on the 28-year-old striker this summer or risk losing him for nothing in 2022.
Tella burst onto the scene at Southampton last season after impressing with David Horseman’s B team and was a regular in Hasenhuttl’s first team in the second half of the campaign, making 23 appearances in total, in which he contributed one goal and two assists.
The former Arsenal youngster dazzled in a late-season win against Fulham, as he came off the bench to play in a striker role, scoring with one of his first touches before setting up Theo Walcott with a deft touch to make it 3-1 late on.
Following that game, Hasenhuttl was full of praise for Tella, saying:
“He’s the biggest talent we have at the moment. He had a bad injury. I see him performing like he does at the moment, I enjoy watching it. A big praise for the academy.”
As the Austrian manager seems to prefer smaller, pacy strikers in his 4-2-2-2 system at Southampton, Tella’s future may well be as a striker and it seems likely that he will continue to be a regular at St Mary’s again next season, so will be looking to make even more of an impact in terms of goals and assists.
Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect him to replace the goals offered by a seasoned striker like Ings, he only turned 22 recently and has plenty of time to improve and hone his game as a striker in the next few years, so there seems no reason why he couldn’t prove to be the long-term replacement for the England international in Hasenhuttl’s side.
And, in other news… Southampton missed out on “fantastic” Euro 2020 star ideal for Hasenhuttl