Southampton striker Michael Obafemi went into the 2019/20 season as the club’s fourth-choice striker with heavy competition for places upfront.
Saints had made Danny Ings’ deal from Liverpool permanent for big money and had also spent £15m to sign Che Adams from Birmingham.
Shane Long also provided a different option to the others and was prepared to play a backup role with Obafemi.
Obafemi appeared as a substitute in Saints’ first game of the season away at Burnley, but a 3-0 loss made it one to forget for him and his teammates.
The League Cup then provided some more first-team action and more chance to show what he could do, and starts against Fulham and Portsmouth yielded a goal and an assist.
His finish in the first game came after he showed good movement and attacking intelligence to meet Nathan Redmond’s low cross, whilst he played through an inch perfect pass to set up Danny Ings’ second at Fratton Park to show his creative abilities.
More from Saints Marching
- Southampton: Ralph Hasenhuttl reportedly agrees to a 4-year extension
- Southampton’s defining moments 2019/20: Ward-Prowse’s match-winner
- Southampton: Saints keen on promising Japan international defender
- Southampton: Summer transfer window could be extended for Saints
- Southampton: Club reportedly in talks for defender Deyovaisio Zeefuik
Five appearances in the Premier League then followed as Saints still struggled, but it was their upturn in form that saw Obafemi come to the fore in the league.
Three starts against Arsenal, Watford and Chelsea saw him put in tireless displays, showing great energy to work alongside his strike partner and chase balls into the channel when Saints wanted to get forward quickly.
In the game at Stamford Bridge, he even produced his best moment of his whole season.
Receiving the ball part way into the Chelsea half, he spun and ran direct for the home penalty area before shifting the ball onto his left foot and curling a perfect strike into the far top corner – the opening goal of what proved a brilliant 2-0 win for Saints.
One more goal came for him in February, but this time it was in a 3-1 loss at West Ham.
In all, he has made 15 appearances in the 2019/20 season that have included eight starts, and his natural pace makes him a player of real potential for Saints.
This campaign can be seen as another step in Obafemi’s development given that he is still only 19, but he will have to continue on the same path and impress Ralph Hasenhuttl and keep his place in the Austrian’s plans.
Comments from the Saints boss about his professionalism have raised minor doubts in the past, but these should disappear as Obafemi matures.