Friday, August 19, 2022

Southampton Linked With The Ligue 1 Dazzler: Is He Worth All The Fuss?

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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 rose to 8th with their last win against Burnley and kept up their good run of form which saw the team remain unbeaten in their last four games winning three of them. Southampton’s defence has been impressive as they have conceded only 7 goals in their 8 games but has managed to score only 10 goals upfront. This has prompted the manager Claude Puel to look to add some attacking players in the upcoming January transfer window.

The player targeted is FC Rennes’ Paul George Ntep. Southampton are reportedly keen on the player in January who has been previously linked with the likes of both Arsenal and Liverpool.

Ntep is a player who has been making an impact since 2013/14 season. He is primarily a left winger who can play as a striker. The Cameroon born French international spent his youth career in a number of clubs before joining Auxerre’s youth setup. He started off in the under-18 group but very quickly gained promotion to the reserves squad, where he regularly turned out during his first two seasons at the club.

He made his first-team debut at 18 but when Auxerre were demoted to Ligue 2 in 2012 he began to receive regular starts. After eight goals in 34 appearances during the 2012-13 season, he scored twice for the France Under-21 side who finished third at that summer’s Toulon Youth Tournament.

Having already spent nearly 3 years in the Ligue 1 since his move to FC Rennes, the attacker has made 65 appearances for the club scoring 16 goals and providing 9 assists. However, there’s not many here in England who knows about the player. Here’s a SWOT analysis of the forward which will help you get better acquainted with what one will get from the 22-year old.

Strengths

Ntep has got blistering pace and excellent dribbling abilities. He has the ability to get past his opponent and makes very good use of his skill coupled with his speed in those situations. Having worked hard on his crossing, he has been able to improve it to be a major strength and his two-footedness serves him well in situations in and around the opposition penalty box. The 22-year old is also a pretty good finisher and his finishing ability allows him to be effective while playing centrally as a striker as well.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness of the winger is his defensive contribution. He rarely tracks back and covers for his teammates on the flanks which affects the team when they don’t have the ball. Awareness of the positioning of his teammates thus needs to be improved and so is the consistency of his passing accuracy which remains unstable.

Rennes' French-Cameroonian forward Paul-Georges Ntep (R) vies with Bordeaux's French defender Frederic Guilbert during the French L1 football match Rennes against Bordeaux on November 22, 2015 at the route de Lorient stadium in Rennes, western France. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

Opportunity

At 22 years of age, Ntep definitely needs to move away from Rennes and a move to the Premier League will offer him the chance to take his game to the next stage. Even though the player has said that he wants to play Champions League football, he is not yet ready for the Europe’s elite league and a move to Southampton might well be the perfect thing which will allow him the opportunity to develop as well as the chance to play in Europe.

With Europa League on offer, the next best thing to Champions League which probably would be more apt for him at the moment.

Threats

With a volatile nature, the player needs to be managed carefully. During his time in the Ligue 1, he has been involved in a couple of incidents both on the training ground and during the matches which should be things to be taken care of. Claude Puel knows the player well having managed in France and is well aware of his nature which would help to manage Ntep without any problems.

The Premier League is ruthless and relentless and the weaknesses will be exposed very soon to which the player must have the character to work hard and overcome them. Being 22 the maturity is yet to come and Ntep must be very careful in not putting himself under much pressure when that happens and try and keep the faith in his own abilities and the manager.

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