Why Southampton should reignite interest in Valentin Rongier
Back in June 2019, a report from French outlet Le Foot (h/t Birmingham Live) had mentioned Southampton among the potential suitors for French midfielder Valentin Rongier, who was plying his trade with Nantes back then.
A youth exponent of Nantes, Valentin Rongier initially featured for the club’s reserve side in the lower divisions before making his first-team debut in Ligue 1 during the 2014-15 season.
The central midfielder went on to establish himself as a firm fan favourite at his boyhood club and also donned the captain’s armband before departing for Marseille in 2019. Rongier amassed 10 goals and 13 assists in 135 appearances for Nantes in all competitions. (h/t Transfermarkt)
The 25-year-old enjoyed an impressive debut season at Marseille, featuring 23 times as Andre Villas-Boas’ side finished runners-up to PSG in Ligue 1 and qualified for the Champions League. Rongier has continued to be a regular fixture at Marseille this term, starting 8 out of the club’s 9 league fixtures so far.
Rongier would be a handy addition to the Saints’ midfield
Southampton roped in Ibrahima Diallo from Toulouse before the summer deadline to replenish their midfield reserves following the sale of star man Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham. Harrison Reed completed a permanent transfer to Fulham while Mario Lemina also joined the Cottagers on loan. Those departures further robbed the Saints of some valuable cover in the middle of the park.
James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu have been the undisputed first-choice central midfielders for Ralph Hasenhuttl. Both players have contributed greatly to the Saints’ stunning start to the campaign that currently sees them sit 4th in the standings with 5 wins from 8 games so far.
The Saints, though, haven’t really got much depth in their midfield ranks beyond the likes of Ward-Prowse and Romeu. Diallo is yet to feature prominently and looks set to be gradually phased into the first-team mix at St. Mary’s. Despite his obvious potential, the Frenchman is still very young and inexperienced at 21, meaning he’s more of a long-term solution rather than an immediate game-changer.
Thus, Southampton ideally need another central midfielder to ensure healthy competition for places in midfield and avoid a potential burnout in case of injuries and suspensions later on in the season. And making a renewed attempt to sign Valentin Rongier would definitely make a lot of sense in footballing terms.
Rongier is comfortable in box-to-box, defensive and attacking roles in the middle of the park. Hence, a potential deal for the Frenchman would not only add more depth and quality to Southampton’s midfield but also hand a sizeable boost to the manager’s squad dynamics.
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Valentin Rongier already has 175 career appearances under his belt for Nantes and Marseille in his homeland, despite being just 25. The Frenchman has already proven his mettle in Ligue 1 and still has his best years ahead of him. He would, therefore, be an excellent long-term investment for Southampton in the winter market as the Saints bid to push for a return to Europe.