Claude Puel has begun to field Nathan Redmond as a striker, and believes that the youngster can prosper in the role in the same way Thierry Henry did at Arsenal.
Henry began his professional career on the wing at Monaco and used to play together with Puel, before Southampton’s new boss went on to manage the Ligue 1 side. The man who became such a prolific scorer for Arsenal only notched 20 goals in over 100 appearances for Monaco, but Puel saw something that previous managers hadn’t, and that was his keen eye for goal.
It was under Puel’s tutelage that Henry was converted into a striker, and he later flourished when he moved to Arsenal. It didn’t take long for the Frenchman to become one of the best forwards the Premier League has ever seen, as he regularly top the goal scoring charts.
In preseason and in Southampton’s opening game, Puel fielded Redmond in one of the striking positions in a 4-4-2 formation. Previously, at Norwich City, the 22-year-old was used as a wide midfielder, but Puel said: “it’s a pity to leave him on the right, I can see in the future he can play as a striker”.
Henry emerged as the top scorer in four separate seasons during his time with the Gunners. At the time of writing, Redmond is at odds of 100/1 with Betvictor to win the Golden Boot this year. Having a punt on that would hardly see you make bgo’s list of the biggest bets of all time, but it would produce healthy returns if the player was to emerge as a surprise star this term. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez became shock superstars last season, though. Could Redmond be about to follow the same path?
The move to St Mary’s was certainly a promising one in terms of Redmond’s career trajectory. After suffering the gruelling challenge of a failing relegation battle with the Canaries, the England U21 made a progressive move to a club that has finished higher each season since they returned to the top flight.
Southampton sold one of their chief attackers, Sadio Mane, to Liverpool this summer, and Redmond now has the chance to fill the shoes of the explosive forward. Although the Saints continue to lose key players each time a transfer window rolls around, others always rise to the challenge and pay testament to the high levels of ambition at the club. The bookies are certainly not writing off Southampton’s ability to continue rising, and 188 bet have them at 5/1 to finish in the top 6.
Redmond’s performance against Watford on the opening day was positive, and if he continues to perform in the same way, the position up front will be his to lose. In the first clash of the new campaign, Redmond registered 5 attempts on goal and scored once. To put this into perspective, his strike partner, Shane Long, only had 1 shot in the game. The former Norwich player also had 7 penalty box touches to the Irishman’s 3. These are encouraging stats for Southampton’s new signing.
It is exciting to think what Redmond may be capable of in this new position under Puel. If he can become anywhere near as good as Henry, it would be excellent not only for Southampton, but for England as well.