Southampton have identified Brentford full-back Rico Henry as a potential replacement for Ryan Bertrand once the summer transfer window opens.
That is according to a report from the Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser, who notes that other Premier League clubs are also interested in Henry who is seen as a potential England international.
A £12m-£15m fee is also quoted for the 23-year-old and would mark a good investment for Saints as a value that can potentially double or triple in future years.
Rumours such as this one and information via the Athletic’s Dan Sheldon yesterday seem to infer that Saints are preparing for Ryan Bertrand to leave on a free transfer and are looking at alternatives for a build towards the future.
How would Rico Henry and Ryan Bertrand compare for Southampton?
Looking at their all-round games, there are certainly similarities between Henry and Bertrand.
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Neither of them stand out in one department and are instead very solid in all regards. Henry appears to have more pace that Bertrand, but both would certainly fit into the current setup well next season.
Full-backs in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 system do not contribute much in terms of goals and assists but play a key part in attacking build-up and overall shape.
Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters are used to stretch the play and use the space in front of them to drive forward towards the edge of the penalty area – often after being found by a switch of play from Jannik Vestergaard or Jan Bednarek.
This sees them adding an extra body to attacks and stretching the opposing defence to potentially create space for strikers and midfielders.
They also have to be very good one-on-one defenders due to playing in a back four and this is a strength that Henry has showcased in his time in the Championship.
Looking towards the long-term, Saints will be keen to have two players like Walker-Peters and Henry on their books for consistency in the next five years. Bertrand’s experience is very valuable but he is likely to remain a top-level players for just three or four years from now.