Hassen close to Saints move

Hassen close to Saints move

The French goalkeeper looks set to reunite with Claude Puel before the window slams shut.

Kit Shepard

Southampton are on the verge of completing the signing of OGC Nice goalkeeper Mouez Hassen in the coming hours. 

The French shot-stopper, who played under Saints manager Claude Puel during their time together on the Côte d'Azur, reportedly passed a medical yesterday, and will almost certainly become Southampton's first signing of the January transfer window, just a day before it closes.

Deal done

With the medical completed and the (unknown) fee allegedly agreed, it will be very surprising if Hassen is not a Southampton player come 11:00 PM tomorrow night. 

The 21-year-old has been unable to break into the first team at Nice this season, so a move across the Channel could perhaps be what he needs to revitalise his so far mediocre career.

Where will he fit in?

Hassen is unlikely to challenge Fraser Forster for the number one shirt on the South Coast any time soon, and so will be locked in a battle with the currently injured Alex McCarthy and Harry Lewis to be the England international's understudy. 

Forster has been first-choice for all of Southampton's Premier League and European matches, with McCarthy filling in for the majority of Saints' cup games until his injury in November. Since then it has been Lewis who has been used as the alternative man between the sticks, with limited success.

Due to McCarthy's absence and the young Lewis' inconsistent form, Hassen will be hoping he can establish himself as Southampton's second-choice goalkeeper. However, despite sitting on the bench for the entire season so far, a move to St Mary's will not provide the 21-year-old with any more opportunities than he has had at in Ligue 1 this season.

Hassen has struggled for minutes in France. Photo: Getty.
Hassen has struggled for minutes in France. Photo: Getty.

Southampton were emphatically knocked out by Arsenal in the FA Cup Fourth Round on Saturday, meaning the only cup game they have left this season is the EFL Cup final at Wembley. Despite his tinkerman reputation, one can be pretty sure that Puel will not use this break from league action and a chance of silverware as an opportunity to give some out of favour players some minutes. 

An unnecessary addition?

While it cannot be denied that Southampton could do with one or two signings this January, another goalkeeper would not have been at the top of many fans' shopping list. 

Hassen's arrival would mean Southampton have five goalkeepers in the first team squad; with the new recruit joining Forster, McCarthy, Lewis and veteran Stuart Taylor. Assuming Forster doesn't pick up an injury, the other four will spend the rest of the season in the reserves. 

While Southampton already have an excess of keepers, two positions they are in desperate need of reinforcements are centre-back and striker.

The departure of former captain Jose Fonte to West Ham and an injury to Virgil Van Dijk  means Puel has just two recognised centre-halves at his disposal. Similarly, top scorer Charlie Austin is still nursing a dislocated shoulder, sustained in December, meaning the Saints' also have very few options up front. 

Jose Fonte's departure has left the Saints very weak at the back. Photo: Getty.
Jose Fonte's departure has left the Saints very weak at the back. Photo: Getty.

As a result, should Hassen be the only signing Southampton make before the transfer window shuts, eyebrows from many around the club will be raised. Fans will be hoping that this acquisition is just a curtain raiser for a flurry of activity in the next 24 hours, rather than the main event.