Southampton may be on the lookout for new signings in the January transfer window.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen his side struggle in the opening quarter of the campaign. Saints sit in 17th place and have taken eight points from nine matches, with only two wins to their name.
The manager has made numerous selection calls that have left plenty of the St Mary’s faithful confused, and none more so than the exclusion of Ryan Bertrand for a considerable period.
Although the 30-year-old has since returned to the starting line-up, Hasenhuttl saw fit to experiment with several unorthodox options on the left-hand side of the defence.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Kevin Danso, Cedric Soares and Moussa Djenepo have all been tried at left-back, with the manager yet to be convinced by academy star Jake Vokins.
Following the decision to sell Matt Targett in the summer, Southampton are without an established competitor for Bertrand’s place in the team.
So, would it be too great a surprise to see Saints pursue a left-back in the January transfer window? We think not, and as such, we’ve picked out eight players who should be of interest to Hasenhuttl ahead of the New Year.
Ballo-Toure is a hugely promising defender. Monaco haven’t started the season well, but the Frenchman has turned in some good performances on the left. Prising him away from the Ligue 1 giants may prove difficult, but he would be an astute signing for most clubs in European football.
Manning has enjoyed success at QPR this season after being converted into a left-back. He has bombed forward and created plenty of chances for his side while also displaying intelligent decision-making in his own third. Perhaps Saints could dip into the Championship market for reinforcements on the left.
Pellegrini, currently on loan at Cagliari from Juventus, has a big future. The Italy U21 international is superb on the ball, clever in his movements and composed at the back. It’d be an ambitious signing, but one that would set Saints up well for the future on the left.
Henry, like Manning, has looked good in the Championship this season. He is a key player for Brentford and has his best years ahead of him. Dynamic, forward-thinking and aggressive, the 22-year-old is not yet the finished article but has the makings of a very good defender.
Katterbach has enjoyed a positive breakthrough recently. He has emerged on the first-team scene at newly-promoted Koln and flourished in the Bundesliga. At just 18-years-old, the left-back is a confident runner and defends on the front foot, pressing aggressively and covering space well.
Hickey has earned rave reviews for his showings at Hearts in the past year. The 17-year-old marauds down the left-hand side with positive running and links play well. He’s got a big future, and the next move will be key to the trajectory of his career.
Ait-Nouri has been one of Ligue 1’s brightest prospects this season. The 18-year-old is the latest off the Angers conveyor belt of talent and boasts real promise. He is excellent going forward and technically refined. Although he has shown signs of inexperience, he has the makings of an exceptional left-back.
Friedl has looked sharp on the left for Werder Bremen. An international teammate of Southampton’s Kevin Danso for the Austria Under-21 side, he is calm on the ball and pushes forward at any given opportunity. Robust, energetic and keen to deliver crosses into the box, the 21-year-old is a promising player.