Southampton have struck gold again. The Saints have turned player recruitment into an art form in recent seasons, unearthing under-the-radar gems while their domestic rivals pay top dollar for shiny custom-cut diamonds.
And, after landing Virgil van Dijk, Cedric Soares, Ryan Bertrand and co for next to nothing in today’s market, the summer additions of Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt from Serie A giants Juventus and Lazio only exacerbates the feeling that no one does recruitment quite as efficiently as Southampton.
Lemina may have been a step below Juve quality but the Gabonese international looks a cut above on the South Coast, dominating the midfield as the Saints picked up three vital points away at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
As a result, the performance of Dutch centre-back Hoedt somewhat slipped under the radar. A £15 million signing (The Guardian), the 23-year-old was assumed to be a replacement for compatriot Van Dijk.
And although the in-demand defender will remain at St Mary’s this season despite handing in a transfer request in the summer, Hoedt looks every inch his perfect successor when Van Dijk eventually does depart.
Calm and composed in possession, his long-range passing was a joy to behold. And he wasn’t too bad defensively either, making two interceptions and nine clearances as Roy Hodgson’s return to the Premier League dugout ended in defeat.
And it is fair to say Saints fans have a new hero.
Hoedt's long range has been sooo good... I hear North Korea are on the phone— Oriol's Northam Army (@europasaintsfc) September 16, 2017
Half time report:— Jack (@SaintJack98) September 16, 2017
Lemina looks class.
Hoedt is the best ball playing CB in the league.
That is all.
Saints recruitment looking spot on once again. Hoedt and Lemina have been excellent. Both cost less than £20m.— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) September 16, 2017
Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt were just exceptional. Top, top signings. #saintsfc— Sam Hammond (@SamHammondRS) September 16, 2017
#saintsfc tactics on point. Long superb. Tadic still cant pass. Lemina diff gravy. Hoedt solid. Cedric superb. Bertrand happy. Well played— Les's Lamborghini (@saintbannerman) September 16, 2017
Lemina is a freak— Blake (@SFCBlake) September 16, 2017
Forster is still decent
Shane Long got his chance and looked good
Great to see Virgil
Hoedt omg #SaintsFC
If Lemina & Hoedt look any cooler on the ball— Jon Champ (@Champy1973) September 16, 2017
we wont be playing at St Marys.. we will be in the Artic!