Middlesbrough midfielder George Saville says that new signing Harold Moukoudi looks like he has been playing in the Championship for years, following his debut for the club in their 3-2 defeat at Brentford on Saturday.
Moukoudi, who joined the club on-loan until the end of the season from St Etienne on the final day of the January transfer window, was handed his first start for ‘Boro – and indeed his first start in the division – at Griffin Park, and it certainly appears as though the centre back impressed his teammates on his first outing.
Speaking after the match about Moukoudi’s performance on Saturday, Saville told The Teesside Gazette: “We saw out there exactly what Harold can do. He played really, really well.”
Discussing the attributes Moukoudi possesses and provides ‘Boro with, the midfielder continued: “He is big and strong and fast and he is good on the ball and when you think it was his first game and up against that front line he did really well. He was up against Ollie Watkins and that is a big test for anyone.
“Harold slotted straight in and looked really composed on the ball. You would never think it was his first game in the Championship. He looked like he had been there for years.”
Looking ahead to the contribution Moukoudi could make during his time at the Riverside Stadium over the next few months, Saville added: “It is early days but you can really see what he is about. He was talking and pointing a lot and organising things at the back, but then, that is what you expect from an international defender.
“I think he is going to be a big player for us.”
Next up for Moukoudi, Saville and co. is a trip to the DW Stadium to face struggling Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.
Following that defeat to Brentford, Jonathan Woodgate’s side go into that game seven points clear of the relegation zone, 18th in the Championship table.
This is certainly encouraging for Middlesbrough.
With Woodgate facing one or two injury concerns in defence recently, the fact that Moukoudi has seemingly been able to slot so comfortably into their backline certainly appears to have eased the pressure in that position.
Indeed, the positive impression he already appears to have made on his teammates can only be a good thing, and you imagine that will only help lift the mood and confidence around the club heading into the final run of games this season, as ‘Boro look to avoid being dragged back into the relegation zone.
As a result, it will now be interesting to see if Moukoudi retains his place in the starting lineup, even after some of those injured players have returned to full fitness.