Could Yan Valery Be Converted To A Centre Back
Tuesday, 26th Oct 2021 11:03
Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that there could be a surprise positional change for the trip to Chelsea and that it could be a rebirth for once promising prospect at right back Yan Valery.
When Yan Valery made his debut for the club a week before Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived almost 3 years ago, there were high hopes for the young Frenchman who was still only 19.
Under Hasenhuttl he initially thrived and his displays marauding down the right flank from the right back spot would bring comparisons with those from Tino Livramento this season.
He scored a cracking goal at Old Trafford and followed that up a week later with another one in a 2-1 home win over Spurs, by the end of the 2018/19 season he looked to have the World at his feet.
But after just 3 games of the following season for some reason he was out of the side, no one seemed to know whether it was injury, illness or the rumours of off the field activities affecting his attitude, but aside from a brief return to the side in October & November he would not play again until March when he seemed to be having a decent game against Newcastle before a mistake led to the only goal of the game.
By now Kyle Walker Peters had arrived at the club and when the season resumed after the lockdown although Valery played in the first game of the return a 3-0 win at Norwich it was KWP who would become the star of the final games of that season with Valery playing just once more.
With KWP now firmly ensconced in the right back spot, chances were few and far between for Valery and he would make only 3 Premier League appearances two off the bench in the closing stages of the games and one start where he was out the full 90 minutes.
Shortly after that game he joined Birmingham City on loan, but would start just 2 games with another 5 off the bench in that spell.
This season he is yet to make a Premier League appearance and he now has two people in front of him for the right back spot, not only KWP but Tino Livramento and he is farther down the pecking order than ever before.
As I mentioned there have been plenty of rumours about his lifestyle affecting his attitude and comparisons have been drawn with another player who made his debut at around the same time Michael Obafemi who too looked to have a promising career, but seems to have failed to reignite it so far at Swansea City whom he joined permanently in the summer.
But it seems that there could well be a way back into the team for Valery and it could be that against Chelsea this evening in the League Cup he plays not at right back, likely to be occupied by the out of favour KWP, but in the centre of defence.
Ralph Hasenhuttl had this to say:
"We discussed his (Valery's) personal situation in the summer and we decided that we did not want to loan him out. We want to have his qualities in the squad. I must say that he has always reacted very positively in the sessions."
"He has been playing at centre-back in a lot of sessions, replacing Jack Stephens during his injury, and I must say that he does it in a good way."
"It is not easy for players like him, those who are not always playing, but he will get the chance to do it and we will see if he will get the chance at Chelsea and if he does I am sure he will do a very good game."
So could Yan Valery become a central defender for Saints ?
Certainly he has the athleticism and speed to do the job although one drawback might be at 5ft 11 he is a little bit small for the role, but there have been many of that height who have prospered in that position and it draws memory's of Lawrie McMenemy converting Reuben Agboola to a central role back in 1983.
A little under 3 years ago we thought that Valery would be a great player for the club, but so far it hasn't turned out that way, perhaps it has been injury, perhaps it has been attitude, but one thing that has stopped him progressing hasn't been his skill.
I'm not sure that a game at Chelsea is the best time to blood him in the role, so perhaps Ralph is playing mind games, but it its certainly an interesting option and one that might just work.
Photo: Action Images
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