Ralph Hasenhuttl is on the brink of unearthing Southampton’s strongest senior squad in a long time. His dedication to seeing the club re-establish themselves in the Premier League has delivered some exceptional results for the Saints. One of note being their surprise win over league leaders Everton at St Mary’s last weekend.
The Austrian’s eye for talent in both the existing team and during the summer transfer window is already paying off. Danny Ings is running the show with his clinical goalscoring abilities, whilst loan signing and former south coast man Theo Walcott also looks to make a big difference.
However, there are several players currently on loan from the club. Mohamed Elyounoussi is making waves over at Celtic Park and could be looking at a spot in the starting lineup once he returns. But on the other end of the scale, outcast defender Wesley Hoedt may not receive the same warm welcome despite his strong stats at Lazio.
It’s more than fair to say that the Dutchman and the Saints have a very turbulent relationship. Hoedt admitted that he regrets making the initial move from Lazio to Southampton back in 2017. Speaking to Sport Magazine in September 2019, the centre-back stated that he “decided to prove my worth elsewhere” after Hasenhuttl reportedly didn’t give him the second chance he was promised (via Daily Mail).
His return to Italy is now his third consecutive loan move away from the Premier League and he has slipped way down in terms of fan opinions. Any return to full-time football at Southampton will result in a sour reception from the Saints supporters, but he may be able to win them over.
In Lazio’s clash against Club Brugge on Wednesday, Hoedt stood out in the heart of the defence despite a 1-1 draw. The 26-year-old made an impressive 11 clearances and three tackles, including a contribution of five successful long balls out of his attempted nine (via Sofascore).
This shows that Hoedt cannot be written off by the Saints just yet and should the £60,000 per-week man finally be given another chance by Hasenhuttl, he could put pressure on Jannik Vestergaard, who has been questionable across the backline recently. There has also been speculation over whether he could be leaving the club. Should any talks come to fruition, it could leave the door open for a controversial return for Hoedt next season.