Southampton’s Jack Cork could be courted by some very big teams this summer if he maintains his recent good form.
Jack Cork is not one of the names that many will immediately come up with in terms of Saints players that have been instrumental on a run of just two defeats in 13 games.
He returned to the first team for the first match of Mauricio Pochettino against Everton on Monday night with a text book display of how to play as a modern football player.
He is quite literally the heart of the Southampton team and creates the majority of turnovers in possession which will attract the interest of big sides.
What he does so effectively is cut off angles and hurries and presses players, which pressures them into making mistakes.
He cuts off angles with simple body movements on the pitch which make seemingly easy passes much more difficult. He moves into the line of a pass which means if that player goes for it, he’ll mop up and win the ball back.
It seems a key feature of Pochettino’s Southampton team is going to be pressing high up the pitch which is something Cork does well all over the pitch.
When the Saints attack, Cork is very good at moving the defensive line of mid field further up the pitch, which gives Southampton a better chance of winning the ball back quickly and maintaining attacking pressure.
Defensively, he links up well with other midfielders to create a mini-line of defence just in front of the back four making it difficult to pass the ball through the middle.
This means the Saints can contain teams out in the wider areas where doubling up becomes easier and subsequently so does winning the ball back.
The only major concern for Southampton has to be his fitness because this dynamic way that Pochettino asks him to play is a lot more demanding than many will appreciate.
It may not seem like a tough task in terms of movement and actually running about the pitch but watch Cork in his next game and he will very rarely be stood still for any length of time.
It’s a relentless style of midfield football that Pochettino has grown used to having managed in La Liga but it seems to be one Cork thrives on. The problem now for the Saints is hanging onto him beyond the summer.
Is Cork the key player at Southampton right now? Tell us your thoughts.
image: © mischatuffield