Scouting Report: What Southampton Fans Can Expect From Mohammed Salisu

Mohammed Salisu
Southampton have signed Mohammed Salisu | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

This time in 2019, almost nobody outside of Real Valladolid's youth setup knew of Ghanaian centre-back Mohammed Salisu.

Then 20 years old, Salisu had played just two Copa del Rey games and did not even feature in Valladolid's pre-season, but he was thrown into the first-team lineup for the opening game of the 2019/20 La Liga campaign. Since then, he hasn't looked back.

One year later, Salisu is a Southampton player. The Saints triggered his £10.9m release clause to bring him over to the Premier League, so let's take a look at what they can expect from him.

Mohammed Salisu

Salisu
Salisu looks built for the Premier League | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Playing Style

A hulking centre-back, Salisu stands at 6'3 and uses every inch of that to his advantage. He is a powerful, intelligent centre-back who knows how to use his body to overwhelm opponents, but knows how to combine that with a delightful left foot which allows him to spray passes out from the back.

Strengths

As soon as you see Salisu, his physicality will become abundantly clear. He possesses the kind of raw size which can make him a nightmare for any attacker, and when he's not dominating in one-on-ones, he's out-jumping his opponents to win aerial battles with terrifying ease. There's a reason he earned the nickname 'The Wall of Valladolid'.

It's not all just about being a big strong boy, however. Despite being just 21 years old, Salisu possesses incredible positioning and awareness which defies his age. He consistently finds himself in the right place to attack crosses or block shots, doing so more regularly than any centre-back his age in Europe's top five leagues.

However, he's by no means a one-dimensional defender. Salisu has also impressed with his vision and passing, proving to be comfortable under pressure at the back as well as capable of spraying passes across the pitch to kick-start attacks.

Weaknesses

At 21, his relative inexperience at the top level will be a concern. This is a player who has just one season of senior football under his belt and struggled with the language barrier during his early years in Spain, so how he will adjust to a new, high-profile league in a new country remains to be seen.

Mohammed Salisu
Salisu was playing academy football last year | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Concentration has also been cited as a potential concern for Salisu, who occasionally failed to control a pass and gifted an opponent with a shot on goal. However, that is expected to improve with age and experience.

Role at Southampton

At Southampton, he will face a battle to cement a spot in the starting lineup. The partnership of Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek began to flourish towards the end of this season, while Jannik Vestergaard is capable of stepping in too. However, with the latter linked with an exit, there might be a clearer path to the starting lineup.

His playing style may even work in his favour, as he offers something different to the Saints' current options. With Bednarek and Stephens are more no-nonsense, Salisu is willing to play with the ball at his feet - something which any modern centre-back needs to be comfortable doing.

Ralph Hasenhuttl
Ralph Hasenhuttl can help Salisu reach his potential | Pool/Getty Images

He'll be given time to adjust and integrate himself in the squad, but as soon as Ralph Hasenhüttl believes he's ready, expect Salisu to storm into the team and never look back.

Final Verdict

This has the potential to be the signing of the summer. After proving himself as one of the finest young defenders around, Salisu had attracted interest from some of the world's biggest sides, including Manchester United and Real Madrid, but he chose to continue his development at an ideal home like St Mary's.

Hasenhüttl is never afraid of giving young players a chance and should be able to turn Salisu into a real star. The Ghanaian is ready for minutes now but could become a superstar under the right tutelage, following a similar path to Virgil van Dijk.

Whether Salisu anchors the defence for the next ten years or is sold on for an enormous profit, all the signs suggest that this could be a real steal for Southampton.

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