These articles are dual-focused, analysing a player’s role at their club from a footballing perspective before considering whether that information translates into them being a viable consideration for our FPL teams. Today’s instalment discusses Southampton attacker Nathan Redmond.
Ralph Hassenhuttl’s appointment as Southampton manager in December appears to have breathed new life into a number of their player’s careers and none more so than Nathan Redmond. The then 24 year-old was in danger of not completely fulfilling his potential and particularly lacked the level of consistency in the final third that Premier League attackers require. Despite starting all 14 league matches overseen by Mark Hughes in 2018/19, not a single goal or assist followed.
However, all that changed under Hassenhuttl as Redmond was directly involved in 13 goals (9 goals, 4 assists) in 26 league and cup matches, averaging one every two games. The Austrian’s use of Redmond as well as his attacking philosophy facilitated this change in fortunes. Whether Redmond featured centrally as the second striker behind one of Long, Ings or Austin or as a left-winger, the attacking onus put him in positions to score on a more regular basis.
It is no surprise therefore that Redmond’s number of goal attempts and shots in the box per game increased from 1.71 and 0.29 respectively under Mark Hughes (Gameweek 1-14) to 2.13 and 1.13 under Ralph Hassenhuttl (Gameweek 16-38). As a result, he managed an xG of 6.91, only bettered by five midfielders during that period Salah, Mane, Pogba, Sterling, Jota).
A drop from 1.57 to 1.30 chances created per match confirms a change in role, becoming more of a goalscorer than a creator. Claude Puel identified that potential back in the summer of 2016, using Redmond as a striker in a 4-3-1-2 formation during pre-season and into the early competitive matches. The role never stuck, however it appears Hassenhuttl is willing to use Redmond in this way where possible.
From an FPL perspective, all of this is very appealing given that the change in role has resulted in more direct goal involvements. A position change from midfielder to forward is potentially on the cards as this Premier League article outlined, which is a positive in terms of bringing more forward options into the game. In 2018/19, only 13 forwards recorded over 2500 minutes played compared to 33 midfielders and 46 defenders and with fewer regular starters, it is clearly more difficult to find value in that position.
Hassenhuttl’s impact has to be considered when pricing Redmond for the 2019/20 season as his points per match of 4.48 during that period was not too far away from the likes of Jimenez, Lacazette and Firmino. Of course, 23 games is not enough to see Redmond enter the higher priced bracket and as a forward, he would gain one point fewer for a goal or clean sheet. Therefore, a price of around £6.5m should be expected, based on a superb second half to the season.
To summarise, the arrival of Ralph Hassenhuttl as Southampton manager in December has revitalised Nathan Redmond’s career. A sudden increase in quality in the final third and a consequential rise in direct goal involvements can be attributed to his change of role and the Austrian manager’s attacking style. All of this is very promising for a prospective FPL asset, especially one that looks set to enter the usually barren wasteland that is the budget forward bracket.
Redmond has since been confirmed as an FPL midfielder for 2019/20, despite initial suggestions to the contrary.