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Southampton would be wise to solve midfield woes by signing this 28-year-old Colombian enforcer

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Why Southampton should go back in the market for Mateus Uribe

According to a previous report from ESPN during the summer transfer window, Southampton were interested in signing Colombian international midfielder Mateus Uribe, who was then plying his trade with Mexican giants America. 

However, the Saints went on to bolster their attack with deals for Moussa Djenepo and Che Adams and the transfer window passed by without a central midfielder coming through the door at St. Mary’s. 

Uribe, too, earned a much-deserved chance to impress in Europe for the first time in his career, with Portuguese heavyweights FC Porto snapping up the 28-year-old midfield enforcer for a rather modest fee. 

It was going to be interesting to see how Uribe would cope with the challenge of playing in Europe at the ripe age of 28 after spending his entire career playing for top South American clubs like Envigado, Deportes Tolima, Atletico Nacional and America.  

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Uribe’s stocks were soaring sky-high following his wonderful performances for Colombia at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil but eyebrows were raised when Porto played a gamble by bringing him to Europe earlier in the summer. 

However, the 28-year-old has silenced his critics with an almost seamless transition from the highly technical South American game to a more intense and physical style of play prevalent in Europe. 

Uribe has established himself as one of the mainstays of Porto’s first-team early in the season, making a total of 8 appearances and catching the eye with his tireless work-rate, exceptional passing skills and an ability to contribute equally to both attack and defence from a box-to-box role. 

As per whoscored, the tough-tackling highly-energetic Colombian international averages 3 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game to go with a pass success rate of 89.5, numbers which are certainly very impressive for a combative enforcer in the middle of the park. 

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To put things into perspective, Southampton should reignite their interest in Mateus Uribe when the transfer window reopens in January, albeit the Saints are likely to have to pay a lot more to secure his services than they would have in the summer, given that the 28-year-old now boasts of European experience in his CV. 

The midfield pairing of Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have done a good job for manager Ralph Hasenhuttl but the Saints are currently short of adequate cover in the central midfield department following the departure of Mario Lemina on loan to Galatasaray. 

Hasenhuttl apparently doesn’t feel that Lemina’s style of play suits his philosophy and, if that is really the case then the Saints might as well get him off their books and bring in a replacement to strengthen the midfield cavalry. 

They might find themselves in a big hole should either of the two first-choice midfielders be sidelined with an injury, as James Ward-Prowse and Stuart Armstrong do not possess the same set of skills to play in a defensive or box-to-box role. 

To that end, someone like Mateus Uribe would be a smart addition to Southampton’s midfield ranks and his high-intensity game should make him a tailor-made fit for Hasenhuttl’s approach.

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The 28-year-old is capable of operating in both holding and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park and his arrival would be a significant boost to the manager’s team dynamics. 

Going by what we have seen from Hasenhuttl’s approach, he is making an arduous attempt to build a squad in his own image with a strong core of talented youngsters. However, experience is something that is always desirable and Uribe certainly has plenty of that under his belt. 

Keeping all the aforementioned factors in mind, Southampton should consider another swoop for Mateus Uribe in January or next summer in a bid to add more steel to their midfield ranks.