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Farewell To Michael Obafemi
Wednesday, 1st Sep 2021 07:36

Saints have said their goodbyes to Michael Obafemi as the Republic Of Ireland International joined Swansea City on the last day of the transfer window for an undisclosed fee, not the ending that many would have hoped for a little under 3 years ago.

The news that Michael Obafemi has departed St Mary's and joined Swansea City on a permanent deal was not unexpected by Saints supporters, but it did have a touch of disappointment about it as it was only 3 years ago that Southampton supporters were amazed by his emergence into the first team and had high hoped for his future.

The first sighting of the then 17 year old was in January 2018 when he came on as an 82nd minute sub in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary's replacing Manolo Gabbiadini.

That would be his only appearance in the first team that season and he would have to wait until November when he would have an 17 minute cameo off the bench at Manchester City, suddenly he was in first team contention and he would make his full debut in the League Cup at Leicester City later than month.

Saints were struggling in the Premier League and manager Mark Hughes was getting desperate and Obafemi would make his full Premier league debut against Manchester United at St Mary's, Obafemi led an explosive start that saw us 2-0 up within 20 minutes, but pegged back by half time to what would be the final score of 2-2.

Saints fans were starting to think they had a talent on their hands, but Obafemi's next game would be under a new manager, Hughes sacked after the United game and replaced by Ralph Hasenhuttl.

At Huddersfield he was back on the bench, but came on after 65 minutes to score in a 3-1 win, but just as he was getting going injury struck and he would play only once more this season, coming on at half time away to Arsenal, but only lasting 20 minutes before coming off again.

This would set a pattern for Obafemi, he seemed to have muscle problems that were put down to growing pains, but the rumour's were that all were not what they seemed off the field.

2019/20 would see him play regularly and when he scored a superb goal in a 2-0 win at Chelsea many thought his problems would be behind him and he played a part as Ralph Hasenhuttl's side moved up the Premier League including a last minute equaliser at Old Trafford.

Little did we know that his Saints career in the First team was almost at an end, the following season he would play only 5 times all off the bench and totalling only 62 minutes with no goals and Ralph Hasenhuttl would talk about his need to be more professional in his approach.

Indeed he almost went to Swansea City on loan in the January but injury again hit and the deal fell through.

This season saw Ralph Hasenhuttl give up, at 21 Obafemi had not progressed in the way that the manager and club would have hoped and although injury played a part in that, his professionalism off the pitch was allegedly also a problem.

Some Saints fans would have hoped that his departure to Swansea would have been a loan deal and that his career at St Mary's was not yet over, but the manager clearly felt that he had a decision to make on a player with only a year left on his deal and he made it.

Good luck to Michael Obafemi, there is a good player in there and he certainly has the quality to play in the Premier League again, especially if he can find the right application.

At Southampton he lost his way and couldn't quite throw off the consequences of that, he needed a new start and hopefully at Swansea City he can have that and prosper.

The fee is surprisingly small, said to be around £2 million and in this cash strapped times for all club's for Saints that is a little more money in the coffers and a wage of the books.

It is a sad ending in that we hoped that he would become a Saints legend, that is not to be the case, but perhaps now he can go on and fill his potential.

His Record for Saints was as follows

Premier League 9 games plus 23 as sub 4 goals
EFL Cup 3 games plus 2 as sub 1 goal
FA Cup 1 game plus 1 as sub 0 goals

Photo: Action Images

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A1079 added 08:25 - Sep 1
On balance I think for Michael Obafemi himself he probably had to go, but I have to admit I feel a tinge of disappointment similar to Jankewitz that he has gone and that may be we have lost potential talent in these 2. Arguably Obafemi has not always done himself favours.

I do feel with Ralph that young players can seem to hit a buffer in their progress/development. I am beginning to suspect that with Nathan Tella - but I hope not.

sidsaint added 09:09 - Sep 1
Sorry to see him go and at a very low fee. He is worth more than the reported fee Swansea paid. He is a young international with potential.

inthebox added 09:26 - Sep 1
It does sound cheap, Swansea probably pointed out his injury record. I can see him doing well at that level, he's physically strong and if they play him in right area he'll poach goals for them.

halftimeorange added 09:29 - Sep 1
I concur with the above. He might be one that comes back to haunt Saints. He had a bit of the Billy Sharp about him, likely to pop up in the six yard box and nick a goal.

highfield49 added 09:58 - Sep 1
For some time I've taken the opposite view and, as much as I wish him well, couldn't see any future for Michael Obafemi at the top level. His only real asset is pace and with his body mass he needs to develop other areas of his game because in my, inexpert, view he'll continue to suffer muscle injuries. Where he has undoubted speed he lacks stamina and just isn't able to contribute for a full ninety minutes. Good luck in the future Michael and I hope you find a level where you can get regular match time.

felly1 added 10:11 - Sep 1
Good luck Michael , hope we have put a 20% sell on clause in the deal as he has potential to score plenty of goals and get a big move back to the Prem in a few years.

SaintPaulVW added 10:31 - Sep 1
It's all a bit strange. What we have seen of him we have all liked. But it's the stuff that we haven't seen that seems to have done for him.

As he's in his last year, poor injury record and little regular game time, the fee is probably about right in these cash strapped times. A sell on clause will hopefully ease any future pain.

I wish him all the best. Hopefully he will develop into a real impact player and make us all even sadder.

davidargyll added 10:36 - Sep 1
I rather agree with A1079 re Tella, particularly as I believe Ralph is right in bringing in new young talented players, like Tino, to complement and augment the squad for a number of reasons:
1. They should make friends with, be an example to and help improve the members of the squad of their own age;
2. A healthy dose of competition is good - in a rising tide all boats are lifted;
2. If the likes of Tella cannot make it with this boost to help them then it gives an early warning to a probable goodnight.

DorsetIan added 10:49 - Sep 1
When players like Tella and Livramento get their starts and really impress it puts the performances/levels of some of the other youngsters into perspective.

I think Obafemi is right to drop down a division and I wish him well.

landsdownsaint added 11:34 - Sep 1
I thought he was gonna be the new (teeth) Ronaldo he had great burst of power & could finish very casually… I think Ralph’s made the right decision for him & the club , good luck Michael

Sadoldgit added 14:05 - Sep 1
Good luck to him for the future but I think he has found his level.

underweststand added 15:06 - Sep 1
Always a tough call and in Michael's case more difficult because when he was fit he was faced with the task of understudying an highly in-form Danny Ings, and when he did get game time might have doubled his goal tally with better luck and slightly wider goals.
He impressed with his pace, which will certainly shock a few Championship defenders.
I look forward to watching for Swansea's results.

(A note after A1079's comments above)... it's always tough to double-guess yourself as to whether a sold / released player goes onto greater things, or just become a forgotten name in the Club records. Those who are rejected at a young age might come back and bite you ...but we did have luck in buying /selling Danny Ings (who we first let go when he was 11 or 12 ?). AND Tyrone Mings was a victim when Nicola Cortese butchered the Youth / Academy programme in the name of better economy, and a slightly unimpressive 16 y.o. Ben White has obviously improved with age.

At Prem. level there are very few " maybe's ", either you make it to the first team squad and get minutes, or make way for the next young talent to take your place on the bench.

I hope MIchael can get established with a good career, but these days any young 20+ plusser who doesn't get some game time and who hasn't got past the U23 is going to lose his way in a rather short time.

Block8 added 18:55 - Sep 1
Still believe a loan may have been the best approach for us. It's very difficult to judge a forward player on a smattering of appearances and if he gets a good run of games at Swansea, he may just prove his potential. However I feel from the games I have seen him play that his positional play as an out & out striker may be questionable but he could make an exceptional number 10! Time and fitness will show whether we have made an error but as stated above I hope we have a sell on clause as £1.5 plus add ons does seem rather low!

KriSaint added 19:06 - Sep 1
There is no confirmation (yet) that the deal has gone through on BBCs website.

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