With Southampton having only managed to create five big chances in the Premier League so far this season, the joint-second lowest out of any team in the top flight, it’s safe to say Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have struggled to create goalscoring opportunities in the league.
However, it seems as though the club have their eye on signing a player who could help them in that regard.
It has recently been reported by Spanish media outlet Fichajes that Southampton, alongside fellow Premier League clubs Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion are interested in signing Real Betis attacking-midfielder Rodri Sanchez.
Sanchez joined Betis’ youth academy from Deportivo’s youth academy back in the 2016 summer transfer window.
Since then, the 21-year-old, who is currently valued at £1.35m according to Transfermarkt, has worked his way through Betis’ youth levels before eventually making his senior debut in November last year in a 5-2 defeat against Barcelona in La Liga.
Overall, Sanchez has made a total of 26 appearances for Manuel Pellegrini’s side across all competitions in which he has managed to score two goals and provide two assists along the way, showing just how creative he can be on the pitch.
In terms of a potential move to Southampton, given the attacking talent Sanchez has shown for Betis in front of goal, he could well be an important player for the Saints. That’s judging by how they’ve only managed to score five goals in their opening seven league games of the season.
With his young age, there’s every possibility that Sanchez could well be Southampton’s next James Ward-Prowse given they occupy similar positions in the final third. Both can play out wide, while their awareness allows them to dictate play from central areas as well.
Speaking about his talent last term after he found the net, La Liga and Spanish football writer Andrew Miller said: “One of the real bright spots this season has been the emergence of Rodri in the Betis first team. Such a gifted young player and caps off an incredible effort with his first senior goal. Always brings a real injection of energy into the team.”
That final line is incredibly similar to Ward-Prowse, somebody who charges around the engine room with his imperious fitness.
However, it’s that lack of a creative spark that really makes Rodri such an attractive proposition. He makes 45.4 progressive carries of the ball per 90, meaning he’d get Southampton up the pitch quicker. That stat also ranks him second among those already at St Mary’s.
Looking ahead to the upcoming January transfer window, the Saints should definitely consider making a move for Sanchez to see if he can turn their season around from its current state. At the moment, they are devoid of creativity but that could change with the Betis star in their team.
However, with both Everton and Brighton supposedly interested in signing Sanchez as well, the Saints could have a fight on their hands to get him as both clubs are currently above Southampton in the league table.