Thursday, October 6, 2022

Southampton Contract Rebel Finally Back In Action: But Do The Saints Really Need Him?

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Anirban Sarkar
Anirban Sarkar is a former columnist of The 4th Official. A huge East Bengal fan and has travelled over 1000 miles to see his team in action.

Southampton have a pretty mixed start to the season as they lost one, drew two and won one of the four matches to hand their new boss Mauricio Pellegrino a very difficult task to cut out in the remaining season.

However, apart from Southampton’s performance under their new manager, the main story that has been hovering around is Virgil Van Dijk’s future at the St Mary’s. The Dutch international announced a revolt after Southampton blocked Liverpool’s move for the defender.

He even handed a transfer request and refused to budge out from his demands but the Saints remained standstill citing the player is not for sale. The player has been asked to train with the reserves squad and recently made his return to the scene when he appeared for the Southampton U-23s against Aston Villa.

But his return to field turned out to be pretty sour as Aston Villa pumped in four goals past a hapless Saints defence consisting of the 26-year-old. The Dutch defender was clearly struggling as he was caught off the line a number of times and also seemed to have lost his positioning sense.

After watching his performance, Liverpool fans will be very happy to have not signed the player they have all been rooting for. The Reds even had to apologise publicly as the Saints accused them of tapping the player without the club’s consent.

However, despite his performance, it will be an injustice to him to shrug him off as he still remains one of the top centre backs in the Premier League. Clubs lined up this summer for his services but as of now, he remains in the books of the Saints.

His performance will definitely be a matter of concern for Pellegrino who will certainly call him up to the first team once he gets fully fit. The player last appeared for the Saints in late January and is yet to make a appearance in this season.

Southampton roped in Wesley Hoedt in a bid to back up Van Dijk if he departs and Hoedt has acclimatized to the English conditions beautifully. Jack Stephens and Hoedt have been marshalling the defence with sheer dedication but given Dijk’s poise and experience in the backline Pellegrino has to roll him up in the upcoming matches to have a better chance this season.

There is a certain change in his attitude after his transfer to Liverpool got stuck and if things remain like this it would be very difficult for him to make his way to the starting line up. So do Southampton really need him this season?

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