Southampton fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat against West Brom on Monday evening and Ibrahima Diallo’s poor performance was arguably one of the key factors behind Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side being overwhelmed by the relegation candidates.
The French midfielder has been a regular in Southampton’s side this season since joining from Stade Brest in an £11m deal in the summer transfer window, making 16 appearances in the Premier League and averaging a less than impressive 6.44 WhoScored rating for his performances.
With Oriol Romeu ruled out for the season with an ankle injury, the 22-year-old has been expected to fill in as his replacement, but he simply doesn’t offer the physicality or ball-winning attributes of his Spanish teammate.
This was clear to see on Monday as he was regularly on the losing end of battles in midfield against West Brom’s powerful midfield duo of Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The physical nature in which West Brom play isn’t exactly a secret, yet Hasenhuttl opted to stick with his midfield duo of Diallo and James Ward-Prowse when an extra man in midfield could have allowed Southampton to dictate possession and win the midfield battle, which is arguably how they lost the game.
As per SofaScore, Diallo earned a 6.3 rating for his display at the Hawthorns, which was tied with Danny Ings as the worst of any outfield Southampton player who featured on Monday. The midfielder won just two of his 12 duels during the game, losing 83%, whereas Yokuslu and Maitland-Niles won 15 duels between them.
Diallo won just one tackle during the game, which is less than the 1.5 he has averaged per game in the Premier League so far this season.
Whilst Hasenhuttl has very few options in central midfield, Romeu averaged 3.4 tackles per game in the top flight this season. Diallo has arguably not been the best replacement thus far, and perhaps someone such as Jack Stephens could have filled in on Monday, as he was utilised in that role against Manchester City last month.
Selecting the Frenchman as part of a two-man midfield always seemed destined to fail against a West Brom side in confident mood after their 5-2 win at Stamford Bridge recently, and Hasenhuttl needs to show more tactical nous if he wants to avoid his team being sucked back into the relegation battle.