Life at Southampton under Russell Martin has started excellently.
The Saints are unbeaten in the Championship season, winning three, drawing once, and scoring ten.
However, Martin is still seeking improvement and reinforcements. After Saturday’s 2-1 victory over QPR, he said:
“We were too slow in the first half and not enough willingness to run.
“We started the second half not very well but I enjoyed the last half-hour. We are winning while learning and winning while building.
“If you’d have said 10 points from 12 with all the nonsense going on and all the noise then I’m really pleased with that.”
The coach isn’t completely satisfied and is now looking to add another midfielder to his collection.
What’s the latest Southampton transfer news?
According to the Sky Sports Transfer Centre [29th August, 18:45pm], Southampton are one of several clubs who are interested in signing Celtic’s Matt O’Riley this summer.
The 22-year-old maestro has previously attracted the attention of Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City whilst playing for MK Dons, but now Southampton and fellow Championship promotion-chasers Leeds United are leading the charge for his signature.
With both clubs having recently suffered relegation, they will be targeting an instant return to the top flight, but the south-coast side may have the edge as Martin managed him back in 2021.
It remains to be seen exactly how much the Hounslow-born midfielder would command this late in the transfer window, though renowned Parkhead legend John Hartson once suggested earlier in the summer that he would be “very disappointed” to see him go for less than £18m, as he told Go Radio (via The Herald).
Would Matt O’Riley be a good signing for Southampton?
The midfielder has been at Celtic since January 2022 and has swiftly established himself as a highly productive asset.
In total, he has accumulated 76 appearances, scoring 10 goals and crafting 17 assists.
Martin has lauded the 6 foot 2 ace’s talent and threat, saying:
“He was good technically, two-footed, a brilliant finisher, and just a really intelligent footballer.
As well as this commendable goal-scoring, O’Riley has displayed that he is also an integral component of the defensive effort, ranking within the best 12% in Europe’s top five leagues among his positional peers for tackles per 90, interceptions per 90, and blocks per 90.
In last season’s Champions League, the Dane also demonstrated his accomplished nature, averaging 3.0 tackles per game, 1.8 interceptions per game, completing 50% of his dribbles, winning 50% of his duels, and managing 84% pass accuracy.
A player of this profile would help the St Mary’s faithful quickly forget about James Ward-Prowse, who joined West Ham United earlier in the summer.
Irons manager David Moyes was overjoyed by the signing and said:
“He’s performed to a very high level in the Premier League over the last decade, constantly producing good numbers season after season.
“His leadership qualities are obviously another huge plus for us – he’ll be a big voice for us, someone who drives the team on from the middle of the pitch.”
In just two appearances for West Ham so far this campaign, the Englishman has assisted twice, scored once, averaged four ball recoveries per game, and 2.5 interceptions per game.
However, given the evidence above, O’Riley also possesses this expertly well-rounded skill set, and his young age means he has a gloriously promising future ahead.
Therefore, he could be a phenomenal addition to Martin’s squad, which will be looking for an instant promotion back to the top; a side that clearly has a large void to be filled in the engine room.