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Southampton signing this 23-year-old left-back specialist would massively change their fortunes in that unit

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QPR left-back Ryan Manning celebrates after scoring. (Getty Images)

Why Ryan Manning would be a real coup for Southampton

According to West London Sport, Southampton have been credited with an interest in Queens Park Rangers left-back Ryan Manning, who has been among the stand out performers at Loftus Road in the Championship this term. 

The 23-year-old spent the first half of the previous campaign on loan at Rotherham United in the Championship but he has really come into his own since being recalled by the West London outfit in January 2019. 

Born in Galway, Ireland, Manning rose to prominence with Mervue United and Galway United in his homeland before completing a move to QPR in January 2015, although he had to wait until December 2016 to make his senior professional bow for the West London outfit. 

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The former Republic of Ireland U-21 international played only a bit-part role in Rangers’ first-team over the past couple of seasons but he established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under Mark Warburton. 

Manning, who had plied his trade as a midfielder for QRP in the previous campaigns, has been successfully converted to a left-back by Warburton this term and such a change has worked wonders for the Irishman. 

The 23-year-old has caught the eye with a string of consistently impressive displays in his new unfamiliar role, starting each of the club’s first eleven league games and playing every minute of their campaign in the Championship thus far.

The Irishman has not only adapted seamlessly at left-back under the stewardship of Warburton but his rich vein of form has already seen him outwit several more established and accomplished players in that role in the entire division. 

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Manning, though, isn’t the only QPR player to have attracted interest from Southampton, with the same report suggesting that the Saints are also keeping tabs on influential playmaker Eberechi Eze, who has also taken the Championship by storm early in the ongoing season.

As per whoscored, the converted left-back has already picked up 3 assists, while averaging a staggering 2.3 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 2.3 key passes, 2.3 long balls and 2.6 crosses per game, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attacking and defensive attributes. 

Meanwhile, Southampton have endured a lacklustre start to their Premier League campaign and it has been pretty apparent that the Saints still have plenty of gaps to plug even after bringing in young and talented attackers like Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo in the summer. 

The Saints currently sit 17th in the standings with only 2 wins thus far, having scored only 8 and conceded as many as 15 goals in their first 8 Premier League fixtures.

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Those numbers clearly suggest that they need to improve significantly at both ends of the pitch if they are to climb up the table and, with that in mind, Ralph Hasenhuttl might as well start lining up a few targets ahead of the January window. 

To put things into perspective, Southampton making a move for Ryan Manning would be a bit of a gamble but given that he is only 23, the Saints might as well look at him as an excellent long-term investment.

Hasenhuttl’s interest in signing developing players has been well-documented ever since his move to the St. Mary’s last year and Manning certainly has plenty of scope for improvement. 

The 23-year-old has only played a handful of games at left-back in the Championship but he is a crafty and skilfull operator who contributes a lot, both in terms of attack and defence, and it shouldn’t be a big problem for him to make the jump up to the top-flight if the Saints offer him enough playtime. 

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Southampton, of course, are light in their options at left-back following the sale of Matt Targett to Aston Villa in the summer, and with Ryan Bertrand the only specialist option in that area of the pitch, Hasenhuttl has been often been forced to field Cedric Soares and Kevin Danso in makeshift roles. 

To that end, Manning would undoubtedly provide more cover and competition for Bertrand and bringing in a good all-round player like him is likely to hand a significant boost to Hasenhuttl’s team dynamics, with the Austrian always keen to favour tactically-flexible players to rotate formations. 

Also, the Saints might look at Manning as someone who could possibly provide some extra cover in the middle of the park, given his past history as a specialist central midfielder. 

All in all, Southampton’s interest in Ryan Manning makes perfect sense for a number of reasons.