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Southampton signing this 23-year-old Argentine ace would add some valuable quality to a key position

Gonzalo Montiel of River Plate drives the ball during a match between River Plate and San Lorenzo as part of Superliga 2019/20 at Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on December 08, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Getty Images)
Gonzalo Montiel of River Plate drives the ball (Getty Images)

Why Southampton should go back in the market for Gonzalo Montiel

Back in April, Argentine newspaper El Intransigente (h/t NBC Sports) mentioned Southampton among the potential suitors for River Plate right-back Gonzalo Montiel. Premier League rivals West Ham and Crystal Palace were also understood to be chasing the 23-year-old, but a move to English football eventually failed to materialise for the Argentine international before the summer deadline. 

Profile

Gonzalo Montiel rose through the youth ranks of River Plate and started his professional career in 2016. Having played a bit-part role in his first two seasons, Montiel established himself as a regular starter at his boyhood club during the 2017-18 campaign. He has gradually carved out a reputation for himself as one of the best young full-backs in the Argentina Superliga. 

The 23-year-old has made a total of 97 appearances for River Plate in all competitions, scoring once and registering 9 assists in the process. Montiel was a part of the squad that won the 2018 Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

The right-back made his senior international debut for Argentina back in 2019 and has since amassed 6 caps for La Albiceleste. 

West Ham Reach Pre-Contract 'Agreement' With River Plate's Gonzalo Montiel Subject to Work Permit
Gonzalo Montiel had been linked with a move to Southampton in the summer (Getty Images)

Montiel would add more depth to Southampton’s backline

Southampton completed a permanent deal for last season’s loanee Kyle Walker-Peters in the summer to replace long-serving right-back Cedric Soares. The Portuguese joined Arsenal permanently on the back of a successful loan spell in North London towards the latter half of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Walker-Peters has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of Southampton’s eight opening league fixtures this so far this season. The former Tottenham graduate has made a positive impression at St. Mary’s as an energetic offensive-minded full-back, proving himself to be a very handy addition to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s ranks.

The Saints, though, haven’t really got an established alternative in that department, meaning a potential injury to Walker-Peters later on in the campaign would create a massive void. Academy graduate Yan Valery is the designated back-up but the 21-year-old has been out of favour over the past 12 months. 

Report: West Ham agree deal for River Plate defender Gonzalo Montiel
Montiel has made over 100 appearances for River Plate (Getty Images)

Valery featured 23 times in the PL during the 2018-19 campaign and earned rave reviews for his development. However, the youngster managed only 10 league starts last term and is yet to make a single appearance in the ongoing campaign. Valery has even failed to make the cut for several matchday squads this term, which pretty much epitomises Hasenhuttl’s lack of confidence in his abilities.

Southampton should, therefore, look for a better player to compete with Kyle Walker-Peters for the right-back role and Gonzalo Montiel certainly fits the bill. The Saints failed to get a deal over the line for the Argentine in the summer, but they should definitely consider going back for the 23-year-old in January.

Lucas Martínez Quarta, Gonzalo Montiel, others expected for Argentina call | Mundo Albiceleste
Montiel would bolster the depth of the squad for Southampton (Source: Getty Images)

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Verdict

Gonzalo Montiel has been making waves with his impressive performances for River Plate in the Argentine top-flight while also proving his worth in the Copa Libertadores – the elite-level club competition in South America. The 23-year-old still has his best years ahead of him and perfectly fits the Saints’ transfer model of bringing in talented young players with potential.

Southampton have roped in some quality young talents like Moussa Djenepo, Che Adams, Walker-Peters, and Mohammed Salisu in recent times. And Montiel would be yet another quality addition to the squad at St. Mary’s, offering Hasenhuttl a reliable alternative to Walker-Peters at right-back. 

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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