Southampton’s Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu has become a fans favorite down on the south coast.
The Catalonia native, 24, has played for some of the biggest teams in the world in Barca, Chelsea and Valencia, but it is at Southampton over the past 12 months where he has really come into his own.
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Romeu spoke to ProSoccerTalk ahead of Southampton’s clash against Arsenal this Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) and believes his team are ready to kick on following the opening three weeks of the Premier League season which yielded a defeat at Manchester United and frustrating home draws against Watford and Sunderland.
“We’ve been through spells where we haven’t played as well as we know we can but there have also been signs that things are constantly evolving,” Romeu said. “We have great quality in the team and there is real confidence in the squad and now it’s about working hard on all aspects of our game to build on the first three games.”
The Spaniard has been operating at the base of a midfield diamond, something which new manager Claude Puel has introduced to Southampton since taking charge over the summer. Romeu admitted it will take time for the players to adapt to this formation but believes the new system is slowly becoming easier to understand.
“Everyone is enjoying training and learning the new system under the manager. It was always going to take time to adapt to a different way of playing but with every game and every training session, our understanding and experience of that system improves.”
Romeu has started all three of Saints’ games so far and is an increasingly important figure for the team after the departure of Victor Wanyama in the summer.
Handed a key role by Puel, the former Chelsea midfielder likes where he is currently at and is aiming to kick on to the next level and help Saints improve on their sixth-place finish in the PL table last season.
“I’m really enjoying the role that the manager has given me,” Romeu said. “I’m playing regularly and hopefully I can help the team reach its goals. I had a good season last year and I want to kick on this season with my performances. I want to push on from last season, add different areas to my game, improve in training all the time and be a big help to the team on and off the pitch. I want to keep progressing and showing the fans and the manager what I can do.”
What can Southampton do this season?
With a new manager and a UEFA Europa League group stage campaign to negotiate, plus several new players arriving and the likes of Wanyama, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle departing, there’s been a lot of change at St Mary’s this summer.
Romeu believes focus is the key and he is hopeful that Southampton can, once again, surprise everyone this season.
“Inside the dressing room, we are just focused on performing to our very best in every match and trying to take the maximum out of every game,” Romeu said. “We are extremely ambitious and know what we are capable of. We’ll take it game by game as we don’t want to get to far ahead of ourselves.”