With the departure of Dejan Lovren and Jos Hooiveld (the former on a permanent basis to Liverpool, the latter on a season-long loan to Norwich City), Southampton's back line was in dire need of a new addition. Especially considering that Lovren and José Fonte combined for 67 appearances between them last season, while the two backups, Maya Yoshida and Hooiveld, only managed a combined 11 appearances.
Although it was rumored that the club was interested in Dutch international Ron Vlaar, who was also a former protégé of Ronald Koeman, the club decided to sign Romanian international, Florin Gardos, from Steaua Bucuresti. A name that most English football fans and specifically, Southampton fans, might not be familiar with. Even Ronald Koeman said so:
"From the beginning, after [Dejan] Lovren left, we paid a lot of attention to Florin. Everybody knows the big names and the big players but it’s always more difficult to find one who’s not so well known"
The 25-year old (he'll turn 26 later this month) is a tall centre back, thus naturally he is good in the air, with an average of 3.2 aerial duels won in last season's Champions League. Another area where he is particularly strong is interception and tackling, where he averaged 2.8 interceptions and 2 tackles in the same competition.
A Youtube video of Gardos's highlights showed that he's a good reader of the game particularly with his tackling ability (check out his tackle in a snow-covered pitch in the 0:20 mark) and a surprisingly good finishing ability in front of goal (including an overhead kick that would make Graziano Pellè proud).
(Video courtesy of Danny DweHD)
Gardos has only played twice this season in the league (both times as a substitute) along with a start against Arsenal in the League Cup. But if Koeman's word is any indication:
"The information the club has given to me about him has been very good. We have a very good central defender."
It won't be long before Gardos' name is among the first XI week-in and week-out.
Data courtesy of www.whoscored.com