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Could Yan Valery Be Converted To A Centre Back
Tuesday, 26th Oct 2021 11:03

Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that there could be a surprise positional change for the trip to Chelsea and that it could be a rebirth for once promising prospect at right back Yan Valery.

When Yan Valery made his debut for the club a week before Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived almost 3 years ago, there were high hopes for the young Frenchman who was still only 19.

Under Hasenhuttl he initially thrived and his displays marauding down the right flank from the right back spot would bring comparisons with those from Tino Livramento this season.

He scored a cracking goal at Old Trafford and followed that up a week later with another one in a 2-1 home win over Spurs, by the end of the 2018/19 season he looked to have the World at his feet.

But after just 3 games of the following season for some reason he was out of the side, no one seemed to know whether it was injury, illness or the rumours of off the field activities affecting his attitude, but aside from a brief return to the side in October & November he would not play again until March when he seemed to be having a decent game against Newcastle before a mistake led to the only goal of the game.

By now Kyle Walker Peters had arrived at the club and when the season resumed after the lockdown although Valery played in the first game of the return a 3-0 win at Norwich it was KWP who would become the star of the final games of that season with Valery playing just once more.

With KWP now firmly ensconced in the right back spot, chances were few and far between for Valery and he would make only 3 Premier League appearances two off the bench in the closing stages of the games and one start where he was out the full 90 minutes.

Shortly after that game he joined Birmingham City on loan, but would start just 2 games with another 5 off the bench in that spell.

This season he is yet to make a Premier League appearance and he now has two people in front of him for the right back spot, not only KWP but Tino Livramento and he is farther down the pecking order than ever before.

As I mentioned there have been plenty of rumours about his lifestyle affecting his attitude and comparisons have been drawn with another player who made his debut at around the same time Michael Obafemi who too looked to have a promising career, but seems to have failed to reignite it so far at Swansea City whom he joined permanently in the summer.

But it seems that there could well be a way back into the team for Valery and it could be that against Chelsea this evening in the League Cup he plays not at right back, likely to be occupied by the out of favour KWP, but in the centre of defence.

Ralph Hasenhuttl had this to say:

"We discussed his (Valery's) personal situation in the summer and we decided that we did not want to loan him out. We want to have his qualities in the squad. I must say that he has always reacted very positively in the sessions."

"He has been playing at centre-back in a lot of sessions, replacing Jack Stephens during his injury, and I must say that he does it in a good way."

"It is not easy for players like him, those who are not always playing, but he will get the chance to do it and we will see if he will get the chance at Chelsea and if he does I am sure he will do a very good game."

So could Yan Valery become a central defender for Saints ?

Certainly he has the athleticism and speed to do the job although one drawback might be at 5ft 11 he is a little bit small for the role, but there have been many of that height who have prospered in that position and it draws memory's of Lawrie McMenemy converting Reuben Agboola to a central role back in 1983.

A little under 3 years ago we thought that Valery would be a great player for the club, but so far it hasn't turned out that way, perhaps it has been injury, perhaps it has been attitude, but one thing that has stopped him progressing hasn't been his skill.

I'm not sure that a game at Chelsea is the best time to blood him in the role, so perhaps Ralph is playing mind games, but it its certainly an interesting option and one that might just work.

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stmichael added 11:56 - Oct 26
I would seriously doubt it...

felly1 added 12:00 - Oct 26
Honestly... Ralph.

highfield49 added 12:06 - Oct 26
Ideal game to give him an opportunity to impress. More likely to play on the right of midfield to cover for KWP going forward I'd have thought but with Salisu likely to involved in AFCON and Jack Stephens injured it's a bonus if he can play central defence. We've also had Lyanco sitting on the bench for a few weeks so the team selection could well contain a few surprises. However, as RH isn't known for bold decisions I have a feeling that we'll see Valery at right back and KWP at left back this evening, giving the option of swapping them to another role when substitutions are required.

ElijahK added 12:16 - Oct 26
Well I’d like to see that tonight, as this game will be one where the likes of KWP, Valery, that new defender we got, a few youth players etc, can show us of why they should be, at the very least, on the bench for the big games. As Chelsea aren’t going to be playing all their big players, so it should be a close game, and will help to end the debate/decide over who should be playing up front with Broja, instead of Walcott, and maybe in defence instead of Bednerak for Watford.
But as much as loads of people are already complaining about this idea, I’m sure that if it works out well, then we’ll certainly have more competition for the bench/starting 11

codge added 13:10 - Oct 26
Well l guess then we really don’t want to take this game seriously and l thought we wanted to try and have a go,why not play KWP right back and Livramento as the wing back if you really shan’t to try something different Ralph,

WestSussexSaint added 13:11 - Oct 26
I could see this if Saints employ a back 3 with Valery as the right sided CB and the KWP as right wing back. BUT I very much doubt that is how Saints will set up. Playing Valery as one of a back two will needs to be alongside an experienced CB and Ralph will probably want to rest Bednarek and Salisu. I think a back 2 of Lyanco and Valery is an experiment too far.

Ali_Diarea added 13:42 - Oct 26
I’d like to see us try three at the back (but not tonight!) so that we can pack the midfield and have two ‘proper’ strikers in a 3-5-2 formation.

This would also allow us to accommodate Romeu, JWP and either Diallo or S Arsmstrong in the centre with Tino on the right and Redmond on the left.

The problem as always is not enough quality at CB and Ralph too inflexible with his formation and tactics.

beynali73 added 14:40 - Oct 26
How about big Frasier as a target man?

underweststand added 15:55 - Oct 26
An interesting question (Nick) coming in between two games and one that I have never seriously considered. There are quite a few examples of players changing position and becoming more successful - aside from the legendary * Joe Payne.
Saints have had a few , and perhaps the best example was Gareth Bale who started with Saints as a left back, before moving up front with Spurs and Real and netted a hatful of goals, and Rickie Lambert spent his early League career playing in a midfield role.

BUT the question was related to Valery - wasn't it? Clearly he was seldom Ralph's first choice at RB and now even Walker-Peters is behind Livramento in the queue - but as a centre back? Not sure if he's quite tall enough for that role and a bit "slim" to go up against some of the tall, heavyweight Prem. strikers. Admittedly, he does have a bit of pace on him, (unlike some of our current defenders), but he isn't my idea of a good CB - even in an emergency. Perhaps we should have a thread for contributors to come up with their suggested positional changes in our squad.
....AND oh yes ...* Joe Payne. Never a Saints player but started his pre WW2 career with Luton as " a half-back " ..(midfielder to our younger readers) and when an injury crisis hit Luton in April 1936, their manager's Plan B was to play Joe at CF.... where he scored 10 goals as Luton whopped Southend 12-0. (That one is still in the record books).

Judging by our recent goal drought, perhaps Ralph can come-up with a brainwave and move someone around to help us beat Chelsea.

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