Southampton Opinion: Adam Webster could be the perfect addition to the Saints defensive ranks
According to Bristol Post, Bristol City centre-back Adam Webster has attracted widespread interest from the Premier League, with reports claiming that a quartet of top-flight clubs, including Watford, Southampton, Newcastle United and Burnley are closely monitoring the 24-year-old.
The Robins are keen to hold on to Webster, who was the club’s 2018-19 Player of the Season, but Bristol Post understands that the club might be tempted to cash in on their star defender should a big enough offer be put on the table.
Bristol City have already lost highly-rated left-back Lloyd Kelly to Bournemouth this summer and the departure of Webster, who was one of the mainstays of the backline this past season, could deal a huge blow to their chances of challenging for promotion next term.
The 24-year-old made his move to Ashton Gate from Ipswich Town only last summer but his consistently impressive displays at the heart of the defence might as well earn him a coveted move to the top-flight, with so many clubs circling around like sharks.
Webster made a total of 47 appearances for Bristol City in all competitions this past season and scored 3 goals, as the Robins finished 8th in the Championship and narrowly missed out on securing a playoff spot.
A product of Portsmouth’s youth system, Webster made his first-team bow for his boyhood club in the Championship in the 2011-12 season before going on to play a key role for his side in League One and League Two in the subsequent campaigns.
The centre-back made 81 appearances for Portsmouth in all competitions before securing a move to the Championship with Ipswich Town back in 2016.
Webster established himself as one of the standout performers in a struggling Ipswich side in the second-tier before Bristol City swooped to bring him to Ashton Gate last summer.
And the 24-year-old once again proved his mettle in his first season at his new club, earning plenty of plaudits for his solid performances at the back and bagging 4 Man of The Match awards in the process.
Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a towering frame, Webster has carved out a reputation for himself as a calm, composed, yet authoritative presence at the back.
A physically imposing centre-back noted for his supreme aerial prowess, the 24-year-old doesn’t dive into reckless challenges and prefers to stay on his feet to intercept and clear the ball away to safety.
Webster averaged a staggering 6.4 aerial duels, 1.4 tackles, 2.4 interceptions, 4.3 clearances and 5.2 successful long balls per game in the Championship this past season, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded abilities as a central defender.
To put things into perspective, Adam Webster has arguably been amongst the top centre-backs in the Championship over the past few campaigns and he certainly deserves a chance to test his credentials in the Premier League.
While Burnley could look at him as a replacement for in-demand James Tarkowski, Webster would add a lot of youthfulness and solidity to Watford’s backline as well. Southampton, however, would bag a massive coup if they manage to beat off competition from their Premier League rivals in the race to sign the highly-rated 24-year-old.
Southampton are currently not crying out for defensive reinforcements, and while the Saints have the likes of Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Jannik Vestergaard as options in central defence, Adam Webster certainly fits the bill, with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl aiming for a youthful overhaul of his squad this summer.
Back in April, Mirror reported that Hasenhuttl was set to show quite a lot of players, including Wesley Hoedt, Cedric Soares and Jack Stephens the way to the exit door at St.Mary’s. Hoedt will be expected to seal a permanent move this summer after being shipped out on loan to Celta Vigo in January, while Soares’ future still remains up in the air.
With veteran Maya Yoshida set to turn 31 next season and the likes of Hoedt and Stephens in danger of facing the chop, it would certainly make sense for someone like Webster to come in and add a little bit more depth to the Saints defensive options.
His lack of top-flight experience might be an issue but one would expect him to make the step up to the Premier League in due course of time, given that the 24-year-old has shown signs of outgrowing the Championship.
Southampton have already set the ball rolling in the summer window with the signing of 20-year-old Malian international winger Moussa Djenepo, which can be seen as a strong statement of intent from the Saints.
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Hasnehuttl is trying to build a squad in his own image with the perfect blend of youth and experience, and keeping that in mind, Adam Webster could be a terrific addition to the club’s defensive ranks.