Even before his first full season in the Spanish top-flight was completed, central defender Mohammed Salisu had already been catching the attention of clubs around Europe. His form with Real Valladolid in LaLiga had been impressive, which prompted Premier League outfit Southampton to make their move.
The deal that took Salisu to England has reportedly cost Southampton around £10.9 million, and while that was regarded as a gamble by some pundits, after the transfer was announced in August, the club management are entirely satisfied.
They are confident they’ve landed one of the most promising young defenders in European football.
Last season was a real struggle for Southampton, who narrowly avoided relegation, therefore strengthening in defence was always going to be a key focus for their manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl.
The German coach regards his new Ghanaian signing as being a player with plenty of potential, confident he will adapt quickly to the demands of playing in the Premier League.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 12, 2020
Indeed, since the arrival of Salisu, football betting odds for Southampton have improved. They are now tipped at 13/8 to finish comfortably in the top half of the Premier League. If the 21-year-old can reproduce his excellent form at Real Valladolid, it’s fair to say The Saints will be more than happy with their latest addition to the squad.
The rise of Salisu has been nothing short of impressive. After making the switch to Real Valladolid, he was immediately impressive in the Spanish third-tier with their B team.
Having already made one senior appearance in the Copa del Rey during the 2018-19 season, there was no hesitation from coaching staff when he was promoted to the first-team squad.
From his very first LaLiga appearance at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and throughout the entire season, Salisu proved his worth time and again as a vital defensive player with Real Valladolid.
His form and consistency earned great praise from their head coach, Sergio González, who was understandably reluctant to see such a key player depart.
Nothing but positive things to say about Salisu. Ever since he stepped into the Real Valladolid first team he's shown his quality, ability to learn and generally progress as a footballer. An excellent young player and coup for Southampton. https://t.co/k8vd6SeFPq
— David Cartlidge (@davidjaca) August 12, 2020
Already attracting widespread attention from a number of leading clubs around Europe, the Spanish club always faced a battle to keep Salisu on their books. However, the offer from Southampton matched the release clause in his contract, meaning there was little they could do to prevent his departure.
Southampton currently have plenty of central defensive options at their disposal, which means that Salisu will undoubtedly have to fight for his place in the team. Nevertheless, expert Premier League analysts believe he can make an instant impact, thanks to possessing important physical and technical qualities the team is currently lacking.
If performances in Spain’s LaLiga were any indication, Salisu is more than ready to make his mark in the Premier League, providing Southampton are prepared to give him plenty of games. Likewise, it shouldn’t be too long before he debuts with the Ghanaian national team, having missed out on previous international opportunities due to minor injuries.
This could be a massive season for Salisu, his club, and his country, if everything goes to plan.