With Ryan Bertrand confirming that he will not be renewing his contract with Southampton, attention now must turn to his immediate replacement, as well as back up in this position. Without Bertrand, there has been a need to use Jack Stephens or Mohammed Salisu in the left-back position rather than their preferred center-back.
Jake Vokins was loaned out to Sunderland despite the lack of depth showing a lack of trust from Hasenhuttl that he could perform in his side.
While central defenders have performed with effort and composure at times defensively, Southampton lost the attacking side to Bertrand’s game while absent during the season. This is vital to replace and add depth too, especially with Southampton’s high press and faced paced style of play.
So Where Should Hasenhuttl and His Scouts Look For a Replacement for Ryan Bertrand?
The American International full-back arrived at Fulham in the summer of 2020 from Wigan Athletic for a fee of around £2 million. Despite Fulham’s relegation this season, their defence has at times proven to be tough to break down and Robinson has shown attacking promise as well.
The 23-year-old played in 28 matches this season, averaging 9.82 successful defensive actions per 90, James Justin of Leicester has the highest having played 20 games or more with 11.4 (Bertrand = 7.74). Robinson also had the fourth highest PAdj Interceptions with 6.8, with Matthew Targett of Aston Villa having the most with 7.83 (Bertrand = 5.85). Defensively, he out performed Bertrand in all these areas, statistically being a better left back defensively over the course of the 2020/21 season.
In the attacking phase Robinson had the second highest successful attacking actions per 90 from 20 games or more with 3.98. He trailed first place Kieran Tierney of Arsenal who managed 4.02 and was by far ahead of Bertrand again who managed just 1.48.
Robinson has shown his ability in the Premier League and stood out while playing for a side that ended the season in 18th place. He has a bright future ahead of him and his ability deserves a place in the Premier League next season.
The French full-back from Strasbourg has been a regular in the Ligue 1 side this year and has also shown his versatility in being able to play both left and right back. At 6’1’’ he would also provide some height to a squad, outside of the central defenders, that are not strong in the air.
He averaged 9.17 defensive duels per 90 this season, winning 62.5% of them, which is higher than Robinson who managed 6.22 with a 59.6% success rate.
As a right-footed player, he is still able to beat players down the left side and deliver crosses but also has the option cut inside and shows good composure in line breaking passing.
The Stade Reims left-back is a more attacking full-back than Bertrand who is capable of carrying the ball at pace, getting down the line to deliver crosses as well as cutting inside. A left-footed player, Konan’s side finished 14th in the French Ligue 1 this season with the 8th best defence in the league.
The 25-year-old has 11 caps for the Ivory Coast and his attacking threat could be very useful to the Southampton side that do carry a goal threat themselves, having scored more than any other side in the bottom half of the Premier League this season.
With Saints wide players often used to move inside and in a more fluid role, having an attacking full-back would benefit the system giving them more options in wide areas. Konan also works well out of possession, able to transition well when possession is lost and at pace. He averaged 6.38 defensive duels per 90 this season with a success rate of 64%.
Finances will come into play when Hasenhuttl looks to improve his squad, and there are more areas than left-back to consider. There is a need for more depth in both full-back areas, as well as interest in bringing in a new striker, even if Danny Ings is to stay.
Saints will need a new starter in left-back as well as cover in both positions; this may interest them in Antony Caci who has the ability to cover both sides to a high standard. Antonee Robinson’s Premier League experience will interest them, especially as he has shown traits that would fit the Southampton system as Bertrand did.
Konan possibly would provide a cheaper alternative to Robinson, though his height of 5’9’’ may need to be considered, even with Kyle Walker-Peters on the right being the same height.
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