By Ebenezer Bajela.
After a tough start to the season that has seen him make only three starts in the Premier League, Nigeria international Paul Onuachu has found life difficult since his move to English Premier League, following his transfer from Genk to Southampton in January, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The 28-year-old joined the Saints from Genk with huge expectations, following his impressive form and numbers in the Belgian topflight league.
Scoring goals is the major duty of a striker, but there is a particular satisfaction in knowing that your position in the team is secured. But for the Nigerian striker, his role with the Saints has been limited to the bench.
Prior to his move to England, Onuachu, after a slow start to the season, started hitting the back of the net like a man possessed, bagging 16 goals in 19 games despite failing to score in Genk’s first nine games due to injury.
The lanky striker missed Genk’s first three games after suffering adductor problems but was a second-half substitute in their fourth game of the season against Zulte Waregem.
After failing to score in the club’s first nine games, Onuachu broke the deadlock against KV Oostende, helping Genk to a 2-1 away win.
Coincidentally, Onuachu has made nine appearances for the Saints and has also failed to either score a goal or register an assist.
Since his celebrated £15m move to the struggling Premier League side, the club have been involved in 14 league games, but he didn’t make the match-day squad on two occasions and was an unused substitute three times, while he was brought on six times.
The striker has only started three games for the club since he penned a three-and-a-half-year deal four months ago.
With just 329 minutes of action played from a possible 1260 minutes, Onuachu, despite the determination to knuckle down and prove to manager Ruben Selles that he is deserving of a starting spot in the team, must be really frustrated.
However, Selles, as quoted by Daily Echo, made it clear that he won’t change his tactics just to accommodate some players.
The Spaniard stated, “I don’t make my line-up or tactics to do with what anyone else thinks.
“We need to be competitive in the game until we can score the goal. It is not about one number nine, this is a different challenge for all of us, so, the solution is not to put one, two or three strikers on, it’s about putting people in situations.”
In another interview with Tribalfootball, the manager had words of encouragement for the Nigerian.
“Paul as you can see is a very special and very specific player. He did well when I took the team against Chelsea.
“For the Leeds game, the whole team was not performing well. I think Paul has his chances to play, like any other player.
“He is training well, he is a good boy and of course, if Che (Adams) is not fit enough, he has the chance to play, from the beginning or coming into the pitch during the game.”
Selles added, “I think he is a player who changes the dynamics of the game. You saw against Manchester United, immediately when we put him in and then Erik (ten Hag) changed his defence and put Harry Maguire on because they knew we had a more direct approach.
“We have to introduce him in a way that can be a benefit for us, not being more chaotic if he steps into the pitch. It is the team that needs to adapt a little bit more to what Paul Onuachu needs when we are playing.”
However, after missing their last two games due to a minor injury as revealed by the manager, Onuachu could be in action when Southampton face impressive Brighton and will hope to score his first goal for the club when he makes his 10th appearance, just like he did in Genk’s 10th game of the season.