Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has heaped praise on Moussa Djenepo over his development in terms of his improvement defensively over the last few weeks.

Djenepo has not always been a guaranteed starter for the Saints even when fit. The winger made 10 starts and 18 Premier League appearances in total in his debut campaign in English football last season, and he has managed 12 starts and 17 appearances so far this term (Sofascore).

The 22-year-old has had a spell out injured already this season and Hasenhuttl has previously suggested that the club were working hard to ensure he stays injury-free for longer periods.

Djenepo was criticised by some supporters for his lack of defensive abilities in the 9-0 defeat at Manchester United. However, he was much improved in making his first start since then against Chelsea at the weekend, making four tackles and four clearances to help provide some strong protection in front of Jan Bednarek down the right-hand side of defence.

Speaking to the Southern Daily Echo ahead of Southampton’s trip to Leeds this evening, Hasenhuttl outlined that he is happy with the progress Djenepo has been making on the defensive side of his game. The manager also suggested that the passion the 22-year-old is showing off the ball is something they have needed during a difficult run of form, saying:

It’s really amazing how good he plays at the moment against the ball. Against the ball he is getting better and better. It’s really amazing how good he plays at the moment against the ball.

This is what we need. His passion here is definitely something that helps us. Especially this part of this game is developing massively since he’s here and, for me, is one biggest strengths so far.

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Djenepo has started to show signs of maturing into the Premier League this season whenever he has featured, maybe aside from that difficult evening he endured at Old Trafford. The 22-year-old has not had it easy so far at Southampton, with injury issues and the form of others at times making it difficult for him to get into the team.

However, there certainly seems a fine player in there and he can produce moments of quality with his dynamism on the ball when he is at his best. Hasenhuttl is right in saying that his defending is getting better – he averaged 1.5 tackles and per game last term, whereas this season he has upped that to 2.2, and he has also won 5.7 duels per match in 2020/21 (Sofascore).

Hasenhuttl has been patient with him and hopefully Djenepo can now maintain the performance levels he showed against Chelsea and become a consistent performer for the rest of the campaign.