An update has emerged regarding Barcelona’s interest in Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu.
According to Spanish outlet Fichajes, the Saints centre-back has emerged as a potential target for Barcelona as they look for a long-term successor to Gerard Pique.
The report names Salisu as one of several centre-back options who Barcelona are currently considering, with no offer expected in the short-term.
Southampton chief Martin Semmens must avoid a disaster by refusing to sell Salisu in the January window, barring a ridiculous offer for his services. Ralph Hasenhuttl would surely be devastated to lose such a key player midway through the campaign, especially after the departure of Jannik Vestergaard to Leicester during the summer.
Four games into the season, the 22-year-old is Southampton’s highest-rated performer on SofaScore. He has averaged an exceptional rating of 7.25, with James Ward-Prowse (7.05) and Che Adams (7.17) the only other players in the squad who have gone beyond the 7.0 mark.
Salisu has won an impressive 67% of his duels in the Premier League this season, averaging four tackles and interceptions combined per game. After the 0-0 draw with West Ham at the weekend, Hasenhuttl hailed the defender as being ‘very nasty’ in duels by using his physicality to win battles.
He said: “Salisu is very strong. In the duels, he is very nasty because he is on them, that is his game. This is why I wanted him to play against Antonio, his physicality. He has these qualities. Today we had the first game where we could stop him and this was good to see.”
Along with his statistics in the league this season, this highlights how important he is to the team. He is now showing his quality at centre-back and using his strength and defensive nous to help Southampton, which has allowed supporters to forget about the sale of Vestergaard as he has been able to step up out of the Dane’s shadow.
However, there is no guarantee that the same situation will come around should Salisu be sold to Barcelona in January. Selling a key player midway through the season would cause disruption to the defence and would leave Hasenhuttl gutted as it could mess with his plans for the remainder of the campaign whilst also weakening his side.
This is why Semmens must ensure that he is able to keep hold of the Ghanaian until the end of the season at least. Selling him next summer, if a good offer comes in, would make more sense as it would give Southampton time to replace him and iron out their plans for the 2022/23 season.