Saints’ two African players have been drafted into the starting XI for the season opener at Goodison Park, but the Nigerian international was benched
Southampton have named a strong squad for their Premier League opener against Everton with Mohammed Salisu and Moussa Djenepo starting, while Alex Iwobi will be on the bench for the hosts.
The Nigerian winger, who signed for the Toffees on a £34m-deal back in 2019 from Arsenal, struggled to nail down a starting role in the team under Carlo Ancelotti last season.
And with the arrival of new signings Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, the Super Eagle, who managed two goals last season, will have to improve on his game to get playing time at Goodison Park this campaign.
With that in mind, it came as no surprise to see him benched by Rafael Benitez for the team’s first home game of the Premier League season.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Salisu, who joined Saints for a fee of £10.9 million on August 1, 2020, will be tasked to marshal the defence and cover keeper Alex McCarthy, while Malian Djenepo will play on the wing against the Toffees.
Following the exit of Danny Ings to Aston Villa, Southampton will bank on Adam Armstrong to get them the goals.
Coach Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted in a recent interview they had lost a good player in Ings but was quick to point out the money raised from the deal can be reinvested into his squad.
“We had a fantastic player over a few years who helped us a lot staying in the league,” Hasenhuttl told the club’s official website .
“Finally, he didn’t decide to sign a new contract for us. He’s decided to go somewhere else, which is his right, but we lose a fantastic player and person and get a lot of money for him with only one year left.
“I think it’s a deal where we only have winners on every side. We can replace him and we must replace him to get a player who scores goals for us.
“I know that we have a few others in our team who must step up now, but it is clear that we have this money, and we need this money for maybe bringing two more players into this squad that we need.”