Southampton news: Vestergaard labelled the "epitome" of club's transformation under Hasenhuttl

Vestergaard

Southampton briefly climbed to the top of the Premier League table following their 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Friday evening. 

With Manchester City and Liverpool struggling to emulate the type of exceptional form that has underpinned their respective successes in recent years, the Saints have emerged as a potential dark horse for the Premier League title. 

Alongside the likes of Leicester City and Aston Villa, should a handful of clubs be daring to dream?

Talk of a sustained challenge for top spot is undoubtedly a touch premature, but the fact those conversations are even taking place tentatively speaks volumes about what Ralph Hasenhuttl has achieved on the south coast. 

If he continues to squeeze positive results out of his Saints side, it won't be too long before some of the biggest clubs in Europe consider his credentials as an elite level manager. 

The Austrian has rightly earned plenty of acclaim for what he has achieved thus far, while Danny Ings has naturally grabbed the headlines with his relentless knack of finding the back of the net. 

But beyond Ings there are a plethora of individuals throughout the Saints squad who are deserving of praise, and none more so than Jannik Vestergaard. 

Danny Ings

The Denmark international did not enjoy a seamless transition to life in English football following his move from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2018, but his form this season suggests he's finally found his feet at St Mary's. 

While writing for The Guardian, journalist Ben Fisher identified the 28-year-old as an emblem of a wider transformation taking place at Southampton.  

"Kyle Walker-Peters, one of three permanent arrivals since last summer, has been superb and Jannik Vestergaard, an outcast for much of last season, an epitome of the transformation since last autumn."

Rated at £10.8m by Transfermarkt, Vestergaard has been a vastly more assured presence at the heart of the defensive unit, forming a stable partnership with the equally impressive Jan Bednarek. 

Interestingly, though, his defensive output has actually gone down this season. During the 2018/19 campaign Vestergaard averaged 2.3 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 7.4 clearances per game, per Whoscored

Vestergaard

On the surface that's a solid return for a player in his position, but the great defenders are renowned for their ability to effortlessly read the game and position themselves in such a way that minimises the need to tackle or defend in a last-ditch manner. 

If we assume that pervading wisdom to be true then Vestergaard's statistics this season certainly vindicate Fisher's assessment that he has epitomised the club's transformation. 

He has made just 1.1 tackles, 0.9 interceptions and 5.4 clearances per game this season, while his pass success rate of 82.6% is his best since arriving at Southampton. 

Add in his two goals and it's easy to see why he's been subjected to such gushing words of praise from Fisher.

It may have taken Vestergaard a while to settle in, but he's now firmly justifying Southampton's decision to part with £18m to bring him in. 

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