Thursday, March 30, 2023

Southampton Want This Forgotten Belgian Midfielder As Wanyama’s Replacement; Good Move?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Southampton Boss Claude Puel is reportedly interested in bringing Belgium midfielder Steven Defour to the St. Mary’s. The French manager is facing a real task of getting his squad together and strengthen some areas with some key players leaving the club and he needs to have a successful transfer window if his team wants to build on what they achieved last season. Ronald Koeman was successful in turning things around after losing key players and Puel also has to do the same now.

Steven Defour is one of the most well-known players of the Belgian League and was part of the golden generation of Standard Liege that helped the club win the National league title after a long wait of 25 years in 2007/08. Defour’s ability to marshal his team’s midfield with his passing, vision and tackling made him look like the complete midfielder. Somebody who was made the captain of the club at the age of 19 would have to have a great deal of leadership and maturity at the same time.

The Belgian dazzled in the league winning back to back Belgian League titles and Belgian Cups and was one of the most sought after players of that time in world football. Manchester United were seriously interested in him but an unfortunate injury, when he broke his right foot at the end of the season in 2009, meant his dream of moving to the Premier League was shattered. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously wrote the player a letter of sympathy after his injury and wishing him a speedy recovery.

The midfielder came back from the injury and left for Porto but after his impressive performances in the first season, where he won the Primeira Liga, niggling injuries didn’t allow him to ever reach the level of performances he gave while at Standard Liege. Joao Moutinho and later Lucho Gonzalez were preferred for the first time as Defour had to spend his time on the bench. The player eventually returned to Belgium and signed for Anderlecht, the rivals of Standard Liege and recently there have been some serious incidents involving the player and the fans which turned ugly and has brought a situation where Defour feels that he needs to leave as soon as possible. Southampton are in need of filling the void left by Victor Wanyama in the midfield and Defour can do the job in that position.

Southampton are willing to place a bid in the region of £6m for the midfielder who has made 41 appearances for his current team last season. For a player whose career has never hit the heights of what it promised since his first leg break in 2009, this is the last chance of proving himself and banish the demons of the underachievement. Puel would hope that at 28 years of age, the player turns it around for the sake of his team if he joins and the player would be hoping the same thing with an added want of proving his critics wrong and prove that he can do it in a big league and is far from finished.


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