Depending on how you look at it, Southampton are either crying out for a new right-back, or they don’t need one at all.
Yes, Ralph Hasenhuttl has two of the most exciting right-sided defenders in the Premier League at his disposal. But Tino Livramento, one of 2021/22’s breakthrough stars, is unlikely to return to action before the turn of the year after a cruelly-timed cruciate ligament injury.
Kyle Walker-Peters, meanwhile, was a revelation in an unfamiliar left-back role last season. In fact, you could argue that the ever-improving Walker-Peters was actually more effective on the left than he was in his more natural role over the last 10 months or so, shifted across the pitch to accommodate teen sensation Livramento.
Do Southampton need Liverpool’s Neco Williams?
So Southampton’s interest in Neco Williams, per Sky Sports, makes quite a lot of sense when you think about it. The Saints reportedly made an enquiry about the Wales international in June. Since then, Liverpool have snapped up Calvin Ramsey from Aberdeen, freeing up Williams to chase first-team football away from Anfield.
And the other Premier League sides named in that Sky report – Fulham and Nottingham Forest – now appear to have dropped out of the race.
Forest snapped up another right-back, Troyes’ Giulian Biancone, for £5 million over the weekend. Steve Cooper’s side turned their attention to Biancone after seeing an £11 million bid for Williams rejected (Alan Nixon).
Liverpool reportedly want £15 million up front.
Where does Williams go from here?
At the start of the summer, Fulham were odds’ on favourites to secure Williams’ signature. The 21-year-old made a big impression on loan at Craven Cottage from January to June, after all, helping Marco Silva’s side seal hte Championship title. But Williams appears to have reservations about returning to West London.
Fulham’s subsequent £8 million bid for Kevin Mbabu suggests that they – like Forest – may have given up the ghost.
Lyon captain Leo Dubois is another on Marco Silva’s wishlist. Ditto free-agent Djibril Sidibe. Does this leave the banks of the Solent as the most likely next step in Williams’ footballing journey?
12 months after Livramento swapped Stamford Bridge for St Mary’s, Southampton could be about to repeat the trick with another young, hungry full-back in need of a new challenge.