Watt View - A win, signings and stars on the international stage...a good week!
Friday, 9th Oct 2020 17:40 by Matt Watts
Matt takes a look back at the last week and surmises that overall it has been a good seven days for Saints fans, see what he has to say here and give your thoughts in the comments box below.
A comfortable Premier League win before the international break, an exciting transfer deadline day and Danny Ings bagging his first goal for England - not a bad week for Saints fans.
Going back to the 2-0 victory over West Brom at St Mary’s on Sunday, barring an early second-half spell, Saints dominated proceedings and looks assured, confident and played good football - it was enjoyable to watch.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s unchanged line-up was effective and centre-back Jannik Vestergaard put in a solid display for the second week running having replaced Jack Stephens for the trip to Burnley.
Clearly the jury remains out on the Dane, however, there are positive signs of development and I am hopeful - and you would hope all fans would be about one of their own - that this will continue.
Yes it is true that upcoming games against Chelsea and Everton will provide a good measure of how he will contend with better opposition, but I certainly won’t be willing him on to fail.
Long may his progress continue and, with Mohammed Salisu edging closer to fitness, their is further healthy competition for places on the horizon.
Hasenhuttl let slip after the game - prior to official club announcements - Saints had completed the signing of much-coveted defensive midfielder Ibrahima Diallo, 21, from Brest for around £12 million. The French under-21 international had previously attracted interest from Nice, Arsenal, Everton, Sevilla and Leicester City, who reportedly made a £16 million bid in January.
Diallo has been dubbed the new N’Golo Kante for his box-to-box style and tenacity. His reticence to leave Brest for some clubs for fear it could harm his development is a sign he is a consummate professional who cares about reaching the top of his game. His choice of Saints and Hasenhuttl is an indication of what he feels the club can offer him personally.
More excitement followed on transfer deadline day with the early morning news Saints had approached Everton about a loan deal for Theo Walcott in a move that would see him return to his boyhood club 14 years after departing for Arsenal.
It became clear very quickly a deal would be reached and it provided some amusement to all to see it run as one of the main headlines of the day. However, at 31 and with his trademark pace still ever-present, his return does not only provide a sentimental moment for fans and player but also sensible business for the club.
The arrival of both he and Diallo, along with Salisu and Kyle Walker-Peters, combined with the departures of costly trio Guido Carillo, Sofiane Boufal and Wesley Hoedt - and, earlier in the window, Moi Elyounoussi and Mario Lemina out on loans and permanent deals for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harrison Reed - make it a successful period in the market in my opinion.
For my part, a player for the club is a player for the club when they retain their dignity throughout and, unless they behave the way of Dejan Lovren or Virgil Van Dijk, I feel inclined to always wish them all the best.
With Boufal in particular it was a case of what might have been but, even then, he leaves with a legacy of a number of memorable and significant moments and his professionalism in tact. His message of thanks to those who supported him means he leaves with the warm regards of most fans.
To see him return Angers, which is where it all started for him, on the day Walcott headed back to the south coast was fitting.
When in comes to Carillo, he can’t be blamed for the club buying him or the wages offered - or indeed seeing out his contract for as long as possible when told he was surplus to requirements. It was the wrong purchase and the the wrong club, but he was never really given an opportunity and I hope he gets his career on track at Elche.
There is a sense the squad underwent a quite significant overhaul in the final days of the window and it was needed. Hopefully Ralph’s refined squad boosted by the arrival of his additions will fuel a sustained positive campaign for the club.
The fact the all of the new arrivals were sought after by a number of top flight clubs and, in the cases of Diallo and Salisu, across Europe as well, is a marker of their quality and the club provides them with the perfect platform to develop further.
In terms of Walcott, whatever the feeling may be about his age, past injuries or recent performance levels, he is a 47-cap England international who enjoyed 12 successful years at one of the biggest clubs in world football.
With Saints meeting half of his £100k a week wages, no transfer fee and the fact his is potentially available on a free transfer as the end of his Everton contract draws near, he is a cost-effective option given his £20 million arrival at Goodison Park just two years ago.
There is one other reason his return makes sense...the boy is back home and I, for one, am delighted about that!
Photo: Action Images
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