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Southampton reviving their interest in this 22-year-old Croatian ace would be a useful defensive addition

Martin Erlic of AC Spezia competes for the ball with Luca Strizzolo of Pordenone during the Serie B match between AC Spezia and Pordenone Calcio at Stadio Alberto Picco on February 1, 2020 in La Spezia, Italy. (Getty Images)
Martin Erlic of AC Spezia competes for the ball with Luca Strizzolo of Pordenone during the Serie B match between AC Spezia and Pordenone Calcio at Stadio Alberto Picco on February 1, 2020 in La Spezia, Italy. (Getty Images)

Why Southampton should reignite their interest in Martin Erlic

Back in March, a report from Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football.London) had mentioned Southampton among the potential suitors for young Croatian centre-back Martin Erlic. Crystal Palace were also understood to be keeping tabs on the 22-year-old, but Erlic eventually ended up staying put at Spezia in Italy after guiding the club to top-flight promotion last season. 

Profile

Martin Erlic started his footballing education with Dinamo Zagreb and Rijeka in Croatia before moving to Italy with Parma in 2014. He joined Sassuolo in the following summer but failed to make a senior breakthrough. He spent time on loan at Sudtirol in Serie C. Having impressed in the third tier, Erlic joined Spezia in Serie B on a season-long loan deal in 2018.

After spending large quarters of the 2018-19 campaign on the sidelines due to an injury, Erlic played a key role in Spezia’s promotion-winning Serie A campaign last term. The 22-year-old has made 3 appearances so far this season for the newly-promoted Serie A outfit. Erlic has represented Croatia across U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels but is yet to make his senior international debut. 

I.S.M. – International Sport Management » Martin Erlić
Southampton had been linked with a move for Martin Erlic in the summer (Getty Images)

Erlic would be a good long-term signing for Southampton

Southampton roped in highly-rated youngster Mohammed Salisu from Real Valladolid in the summer following the departure of Maya Yoshida and Wesley Hoedt.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has rotated the likes of Jannik Vestergaard, Jan Bednarek, and Jack Stephens in the PL this season. Despite all the aforementioned players doing a decent job, Southampton have struggled to stem the inflow of goals. The Saints have made a very good start to the campaign with 4 wins from 7 games, but have conceded 12 goals already. 

That represents a continuation of their poor defensive record from the previous campaign. Southampton shipped 60 goals en route to their 11th-place finish last term.

And they certainly didn’t do enough in the summer market to shore up their leaky backline with new signings. Salisu has been touted for a bright future but the Saints can certainly do with more competition for places to facilitate effective rotation at the back.

Martin Erlić (@ErlicMartin) | Twitter
Source: Getty Images

To put things into perspective, Southampton should consider reigniting their interest in Martin Erlic when the market reopens in January. The Croatian starlet has been making waves with his impressive development in Italy and seems to be a quality young player with serious talent and potential. 

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Verdict

Southampton have largely focused on recruiting young and talented players in the market since the appointment of Hasenhuttl in 2018. Che Adams, Moussa Djenepo, and Salisu have all come through the door at St. Mary’s and a potential deal for Martin Erlic would hand yet another boost to the club’s long-term plans moving forward. 

The Croatian might not be ready to make a big impact in the Premier League just yet but Hasenhuttl knows exactly how to handle the development of youngsters. The Austrian gaffer should look to gradually integrate him into his plans if a move does materialise.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

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

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