Onuachu: Can he rescue battered Saints?


By Abiodun Adewale.

Barely hours after arriving from Genk in an £18m deal, Nigeria international Paul Onuachu hardly got time to train with his new teammates on the south coast but was good enough to make his Southampton debut as a substitute in their 3-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday.

The 28-year-old completed a late transfer switch from the Belgium club to St Mary’s Stadium on the last day of the January transfer window, after scoring 16 goals in 19 appearances in the current Belgian Pro League.

Onuachu perhaps didn’t think twice before joining the Saints, who before securing his signature, had tried to get his compatriot Terem Moffi in a bid to fix their striking problems and get out of the red zone in the English Premier League.

Tied to a three-and-a-half- year deal with Southampton, Onuachu surely has enough years to live his Premier League dream, but first, he will have to help Nathan Jones men escape relegation if he will have the chance of spending the remaining three years on his contact in the Premier League.

Numbers don’t lie, and his current form is certainly why Southampton went for him. What remains to be seen is how his Belgium form will transition with him to England.

Throughout Onuachu’s stay in Belgium, he was consistent with goals scoring and never ran short of them in the second half of the season as well, putting into cognisance that he joined Southampton mid-season.

In the 2020/21 season, his best in Belgium, Onuachu bagged 29 goals for Genk in the league with 14 of them coming in the second half of the season.

He followed it up with 19 goals the following season and seven of them were scored in the second half of the season even as injuries kept him out of two games.

But he only managed two goals in the second half of the 2019/20 season, which was his first in Belgium, before the league ended abruptly in March following the COVID-19 outbreak. He scored nine league goals that season.

Onuachu’s goals scoring form transcends his Genk days as he was also a prolific attacker for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, where he also contributed 74 goals and 23 assists in 181 appearances.

By his numbers, Onuachu can still come up with a decent goal average for Southampton, and if he hits double figures in the remaining 17 games of the season, the Saints might be on their way to safety, depending on how crucial the goals would be.

On their own, Southampton have been nothing but vulnerable this season, shipping in 38 goals and scoring only 17 in 21 games.

Onuachu could certainly be the solution to their goal scoring deficit, and the Nigerian will hope his new club won’t be undone by how much they concede.

Former Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr believes Onuachu will thrive in the Premier League, despite the odds against Southampton.

“It has been a long dream of Paul to play in the Premier League and I believe he can succeed there if they play to his strength because they (Southampton) need goals to stay up in the EPL. He is a great striker with a good goalscoring history. I wish him all the best.”