Should Southampton Sell Jannik Vestergaard This Summer
Friday, 4th Jun 2021 09:20
Although it seems that Tottenham Hotspur may have gone a little cold on Jannik Vestergaard after the departure of Jose Mourinho, Leicester City are still linked, but the latest rumour is if he leaves Saints then it could be abroad.
Saints have some big thinking to do about Jannik Vestergaard this summer, a year ago they were doing exactly the same, with a move linked for the Dane and his replacement already signed in Mohamed Salisu and now it seems we are back to square one again.
But this year Vestergaard is more marketable and has only a year left on his contract which means that Saints really have to make a decision one way or the other.
Last summer there were few Saints fans who would have shed a tear if Vestergaard had left, in two seasons he had started just 40 games, had dropped down the pecking order behind Jack Stephens and was hardly considered a good signing by most.
In the opening two games of 2020/21 he came on as a sub at Crystal Palace but remained on the bench at home to Tottenham Hotspur, although the horrors show at the back meant that for the third game a trip to Burnley he came into the side at the expense of Stephens.
Suddenly he looked a different player for some reason and thus started a purple patch where in 12 games he was not only strong defensively, but also on the attack where he suddenly found a range of cross field passing and also scored 3 times as Saints powered to the top four in the Premier league.
But the writing had been on the wall in the 8th of these games when we blew a two goal lead against Manchester United and lost 3-2 and then Vestergaard picked up an injury in the game against Manchester City that would keep him out of the side for 9 weeks.
When he came back he seemed to have lost the magical powers of his 12 game spell and reverted back to the player he had been for the previous two seasons, goals were being conceded left right and centre and the defence had no organisation.
This continued right up to the end of the season, sometimes we would get away with sloppy defending, but at other times we wouldn't and it seemed that it was mostly we wouldn't.
It is not just Vestergaard's fault, there are other factors and I think the main one is that he and Jan Bednarek are just not compatible as a central defensive pairing, both are in essence the player who wants to take first knock as we used to call it, ie one defender attacks the ball and marks the man whilst the other holds the back line and steps in to cover.
Too often neither Vestergaard or Bednarek would know who was meant to be doing what and we paid the price, in terms of Vestergaard he was seemingly the holding player, but the position was alien to him, too often we would see him caught out of position and his reading of the game was poor, there were far too many goals where he was caught in no mans land and neither marking or covering.
So we now have a player who in three seasons has played 69(3) games in the Premier League and scored 4 times, but virtually all of his good games have been squeezed into that 12 game spell last Autumn.
So what do we do, do we stick or sell,?
My view of the situation is this, Jannik Vestergaard is not a bad central defender he just needs to be in the right defence, in my opinion he is not as good as Jan Bednarek, so he is the one that we should cash in on.
His stock still remains high from his spell last season and therefore we have a chance of getting a decent portion of the £18 million we paid back in 2018, also we have to consider that a year ago we bought Mohamed Salisu to replace him.
Salisu is still learning, but in the games he played he showed that he is the type of player we need, he is a good reader of the game and he has speed in both the physical and mental sense that can get him out of trouble in terms of pace but also by seeing and dealing with a situation before it has time to develop, these are two attributes that Vestergaard lacks.
So Salisu would make the ideal partner for Jan Bednarek in all but one thing and that is leadership and experience, in many respects, Salisu reminds me of Virgil Van Dijk in his style, but when Van Dijk arrived at St Mary's at 24 he was very near to being the finished article, he had two seasons in the Eridivisie in Holland behind him, plus another two at Celtic where he had also played many games in the Champions League and the Europa League.
Salisu doesn't have that, he arrived aged 21 with just 30 games in La Liga to his name.
So personally I would like to see Saints cash in on Vestergaard and nurture the partnership between Bednarek and Salisu with Jack Stephens as back up, but I do think we would still lack something and that is experience and leadership, I would like us to bring in an old head in the centre of the back four who would be an influence both on and off the pitch.
There will be a few of those around this summer with contracts not being renewed , someone in the vein of ex Saints loanee Toby Alderweireld who turned 32 at the end of this season for instance, he has two years left on his contract at Spurs, but with the North London Soccer Chickens looking for younger blood at the back, he looks to be surplus to requirements, he would be ideal as someone who could bring stability and organisation to our defence, if not him there are plenty like him out there.
If Vestergaard was to stay I would not be unhappy, but I do think we would end up just repeating the defensive debacles of the last few years.
But getting a big fee for Vestergaard won't be easy, few clubs out there have any money, all have been losing money hand over fist due to the Covid 19 pandemic slashing revenues, Spurs for instance are over £1 billion in debt, they are in big trouble, they will look to do what they always do and that is buy low at the last minute, but years of fleecing other clubs in this way may now backfire on them, Daniel Levy has few friends in football due to his operating methods and suddenly he doesn't have the upper hand and it's payback time for him.
That is actually bad news for Saints a deal of Toby Alderwiereld plus cash would have been very tempting.
But the two obstacles in Saints way are that just due to the situation in the World the money isn't there and transfer values have plunged due to this and also we could lose him for nothing in a year.
From his personal perspective Vestergaard will turn 29 in August, so he hasn't got a lot of time left himself, if he want's a decent move then he needs to do it now.
In England Leicester could be the best hope for both the player and for Saints, but rumours have emerged of club's in Europe interested, but from Vestergaard's perspective he is not going to get the wages he gets in the Premier league, so we will find out if he is willing to take a cut to potentially have a great ending to his career.
Photo: Action Images
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