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New signings: Salisu's power suited to Premier League

Adrian Clarke 27 Aug 2020
Mohammed Salisu Valladolid v2

Adrian Clarke says Ghanaian defender's physicality and passing accuracy will offer Southampton's defence a new dimension

Adrian Clarke assesses players who have changed clubs this summer and can make an impact in 2020/21.

Mohammed Salisu (SOU)

A powerful and aggressive central defender, Salisu will try to make life uncomfortable for Premier League strikers.

This was evident in an impressive debut season with LaLiga side Real Valladolid, where Salisu consistently got tight to forwards and regained possession from his duels.

His game is still a touch raw but the 21-year-old's relish of the physical battle should help him quickly adjust to English football.

Back to basics 

Salisu was dubbed "The wall of Valladolid" in 2019/20 for his ability to repel attacks.

The Ghanaian certainly enjoys the basics of defending.

Featuring in LaLiga's top five for both clearances and blocks last term, he is a resilient centre-back.

Midtable side Real Valladolid had one of the best defensive records in Spain's top flight last season, and Salisu was key to that.

Top clearances by LaLiga defenders
2019/20 Club Total 
Diego Carlos Sevilla 174
Raul Albiol Villarreal 173
Mohammed Salisu Real Valladolid 153
Domingos Duarte Granada 151
Gerard Pique Barcelona 150
Top blocks by La Liga defenders
2019/20 Club Total 
Ruben Vezo Levante 29
Gabriel Paulista Valencia 29
Antonio Raillo Mallorca 26
Martin Valjent Mallorca 26
Mohammed Salisu Real Valladolid 25

Salisu is most at home on the left side of a centre-back pairing, so he will primarily compete with Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard for a place in Southampton's starting XI.

In LaLiga he was comfortable carrying the ball out of defence and showed confidence with his distribution.

Salisu's 80.2 per cent pass accuracy is higher than those recorded by all of Southampton's central defenders.

Ralph Hasenhuttl may ask him go more direct with Saints, especially when he starts with a front two, but the new signing's accurate left foot is good enough to handle those expectations.

Salisu stats 2019/20
LaLiga Total
Matches 31
Minutes 2,726
Blocks/90 0.8
Clearances/90 5.1
Tackles/90 1.4
Aerial duels won/90 2.6
Interceptions/90 1.2

At this stage of his development, Southampton have invested in his potential, but do not be surprised if Salisu features early in the campaign.

He has a strong temperament to match his 6ft 3in frame.

Hasenhuttl's back four certainly needs to improve on the 60 goals conceded in 38 matches last season.

Of those that avoided relegation, only Aston Villa and West Ham United had worse records, with 67 and 62 goals respectively.

Having recruited a young and powerful left-footed defender, Hasenhuttl now has better competition for places.

Also in this series

Part 1: World-class Ziyech can do the spectacular
Part 2: Lallana offers Brighton a cutting edge
Part 3: Hojbjerg can tighten up Spurs' midfield
Part 5: Ake will balance out Man City defence
Part 6: Thiago Silva well suited to Lampard's style
Part 7: Willian will add creative flair to Arsenal
Part 8: Eze can make Palace an attacking force
Part 9: Intelligent Rodrigo a natural fit for Leeds

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