Premier League outfit Southampton are considering a move for Nottingham Forest centre-back Joe Worrall, as reported by Hampshire Live.
The 24-year-old has become a vital asset for the East Midlands side at the City Ground, having graduated through the Championship club’s academy and established himself as one of the league’s best centre-backs.
He played a crucial role in Forest’s excellent defensive record last year, helping his side to conceded just 45 goals in 46 league appearances and compensate for an impotent attack.
Quiz: Have Nottingham Forest won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
Considering Chris Hughton’s men scored a dire 37 second-tier goals last season, it could be argued their defence saved them from relegation and Worrall’s importance has shone through again at the beginning of 2021/22, without him playing a single minute of football.
The central defender has missed their opening two league games of the season due to a calf injury and in that time, the Championship side have conceded a total of four goals in just over 180 minutes of league football.
This is a far cry from last season’s record, but they will be hoping to welcome the 24-year-old back into the fold soon.
He is expected to recover in time for the end of the transfer window though and with this, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton have reportedly entered the race for his signature, after seeing their own star centre-back Jannik Vestergaard depart in a £15m move to Leicester City last Friday.
However, the Hasenhuttl’s aren’t the only top-flight team to have taken an interest in Worrall over the past few months, with Burnley, Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Norwich City also reported to have taken a look at the Forest man during the summer.
We’ve taken a more in-depth look at his statistics from last season to find out just how much quality he has and why he’s been the subject of such widespread interest from the top-flight.
Although Worrall’s 33 appearances in all competitions during the 2020/21 campaign may seem disappointing, he suffered with an injury at the start of that season as well – and proved to be a reliable man to call upon when he appeared in every second-tier game for the East Midlands side in 2019/20.
But in terms of the matches he has played in, he’s dominated at the back as a commanding figure and his 70.7% success rate in winning his defensive duals just shows how he rarely lets opposition forwards get a sniff.
This relentless ability to win his battles against some of the second tier’s most prolific forwards could be a taster of what’s set to come in the Premier League if Southampton press ahead with this potential deal.
Knowing you have someone like Worrall who can get the better of his man can also allow his side to drive up the pitch and with his duel success translating into a magnificent defensive record at Forest last term, this solidity at the back takes the onus off his team’s attack to outscore their opponents.
The Saints could also count on the 24-year-old to be a threat in both boxes, winning his aerial duels more often than not and getting to 60.7% of loose balls to retain possession for his side.
The latter stat goes hand in hand with his impressive 4.93 interceptions per game. There’s no doubt many of these interceptions have preserved the East Midlands side’s immaculate defensive record last season, with the last statistic of the graphic also contributing to that.
Conceding just 0.5 fouls per game on average, Ralph Hasenhuttl can have confidence that Worrall will rarely give away penalties or free-kicks in a dangerous position, both of which often lead to completely unavoidable goals being conceded and this is why the final stat is perhaps the most important of the lot.
Many teams often utilise set-pieces as one of their strengths, but any teams facing Joe Worrall will know they will only have a limited number of opportunities to make them count.