Could Leeds’ defensive star handle the step up at Southampton?

Leeds United

Southampton have set their sights on Leeds youngster Sam Byram, but can he make the step up to the Premier League?

According to reports, Southampton have made their interest in Leeds starlet Sam Byram official, after a £4.5 million bid was rejected by the Championship club.

New manager Ronald Koeman is keen to sign the youngster to boost his defensive options after the club's summer exodus. Byram is expected to replace the departed Calum Chambers, whilst offering Nathaniel Clyne stiff competition for a starting berth at right-back.

Byram has established himself in the first team at Elland Road after making his debut in 2012, he has since gone on to make 69 appearances for the club. However, after rapidly emerging as a first team regular, and having stolen the show at his first end of season awards, injuries blighted his 2013/14 campaign, limiting him to just 25 league appearances.

At 20 years of age, he already has so much experience already under his belt, and there’s no doubt has a long and bright future ahead of him, but is he ready for the step up to Premier League football with Southampton?

Byram plays an integral role at Leeds, playing in either defence or midfield. He has the vision to pick out the passes and crosses and the ability to deliver them, making him a valuable asset in attack, whilst he never fails to fulfil his defensive duties. He boasts a remarkable work-rate down the right flank.

He offers surprising strength, considering he’s a small lad, and his ability to position himself at the back provides an advantage when it comes to quashing opposition moves. When Leeds faced Tottenham in the FA Cup two seasons ago, Byram, at just 19-years-old, had Gareth Bale in his back pocket.

He featured on Saturday during Leeds’ opening day defeat to Millwall. He created three goal scoring chances in this fixture, whilst completing 80% of his attempted duels – this included four successful tackles and three headers. He also weighed in with an interception and one clearance.

Byram poses similarities to Clyne and former Saints’ full-back Luke Shaw, both of whom have excelled during the club’s time in the Premier League. As an attacking-minded player, the Championship youngster offers the perfect credentials for success in the top flight.

Leeds are believed to be holding out for a £10 million offer for the young defender, but this price-tag will do little to deter the Saints, who have a significant transfer budget at their disposal.

The club have a long-tradition of developing young home-grown talent and there is no reason Byram cannot be the next star player to move down the St. Mary’s production line.

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