A big update has emerged on Southampton and their pursuit of a new central defender to bolster Russell Martin’s squad before the summer transfer window slams shut.
What’s the latest Southampton transfer news?
According to The Telegraph, the Saints have won the race to sign Manchester City enforcer Taylor Harwood-Bellis on loan until the end of the season.
This comes after the Daily Echo reported that the club were eyeing up a loan swoop for the England U21 star and that a deal could be completed on Thursday.
Southampton have already seen two bids rejected for Swansea City centre-back Nathan Wood, who worked with Martin in Wales last season, and they appear to have moved on to the City prospect.
How good is Taylor Harwood-Bellis?
The £7k-per-week titan is a dream alternative to the Swans brute as their respective performances at Championship level last term suggests that the Premier League loanee would be a far better option for the club.
Harwood-Bellis spent the 2022/23 campaign with Burnley and played a crucial role in their title-winning campaign with his consistently outstanding performances at the back.
Talent scout Jacek Kulig hailed the towering enforcer as “the real deal” after his impressive displays for the Clarets and it is easy to see why when you look at his superb statistics.
The 21-year-old battler averaged an excellent Sofascore rating of 7.21 across 32 Championship appearances, which is a score no Saints player managed last season, as he made 2.9 tackles and interceptions per game and won 63% of his duels.
No Southampton centre-back has managed more than 2.3 tackles and interceptions per outing this term, which suggests that the English ace could win possession back more frequently for the team.
This shows that Harwood-Bellis was a fantastic performer at that level as he was the highest-rated central defender in the division last season.
The 21-year-old gem made two tackles and interceptions per clash and won 57% of his battles, which included a 56% success rate in his ground duels, as per Sofascore.
This suggests that the Manchester City prospect would be a far superior signing in comparison to Wood as he has proven himself to be a better performer in the second tier with the average level of his displays along with his strength in physical contests and his ability to win the ball back more frequently to cut out opposition attacks.
Harwood-Bellis is also less prone to making mistakes as the England U21 stopper did not make a single error leading to a goal or shot for the opposition last season.
Whereas, Wood made two blunders leading to shots for the other team and this suggests that he would be more of a liability to the side at the back.
Therefore, securing a deal to sign the former Burnley champion would be a perfect alternative to bringing in Wood after the club’s failed efforts to land the former Middlesbrough man.