Southampton have completed the £15.5m signing of Lazio centre-back Wesley Hoedt, who arrives at a time when compatriot Virgil van Dijk has made his intentions clear that he’d like to leave the Saints for an upgrade.
Hoedt, 23, signs on a five-year deal at St. Mary’s and is expected to play as one of Mauricio Pellegrino’s first choice options within the backline. He becomes their third summer signing, after completing deals for Jan Bednarek and Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina. Hoedt made his senior international debut in March and it does come as a slight surprise that others weren’t linked with an approach for his services.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Hoedt was quoted as saying by the club’s official website.
“I think Southampton is a really big club, so it’s a good next step for me to come here and to play in the Premier League – try to help the best I can.”
Southampton’s vice-chairman Les Reed described the 23-year-old as “one of the most promising young defenders in Europe”, who will be a “significant addition” to Pellegrino’s squad this season and beyond.
“Having procured a Champions League finalist from one Italian club [Lemina], we have now added an Italian Supercoppa winner from another. We believe he has all the qualities to play a big part in our future, and we have worked hard to bring him to Southampton, with a number of other high-profile clubs interested in him. Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult.”
“Wesley has proven his talent through his performances for Lazio, as well as the Netherlands, and we believe he can develop even further here at Southampton, alongside his international team-mate Virgil van Dijk, as well as the likes of Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos.”
Despite this latest signing, it has already been stressed that it’s not a direct replacement for the aforementioned van Dijk. They are still involved in a stand-off with the player, who has disappointed them with his recent comments – especially given the fact he was happy to sign a lucrative new deal last summer. Having not featured since January, you can understand their frustration as arguably their best player has made public his intentions to leave, though they’ve insisted he will not be allowed to depart before the current window closes.