Who is Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu?

Following the departure of Fraser Forster to Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer, Southampton recently announced the capture of goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu from Manchester City for a reported fee of £12m.

Last season’s successful loan spell at south coast rivals Portsmouth impressed scouts and, for such a fee, the 20-year-old could now progress to being a Premier League number one.

“Gavin is a very exciting addition to the squad. He is a goalkeeper with a very modern style of play, comfortable in the build-up phase, who has physically developed through some very important loan moves early in his career.” — Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl

So, where does the Republic of Ireland international fit in at the Saints and what impact will he have in Fantasy Premier League (FPL)?

We’ll attempt to answer those questions below.

THE HISTORY

Season Team Apps Goals Conceded Clean Sheets
2021/22 Portsmouth (loan) 44 51 16
2020/21 Rochdale (loan) 29 55 4
2018 Shamrock Rovers 4 4 0

Born in Dublin, Bazunu wasn’t always a goalkeeper. With Shamrock Rovers under-13s, he was a fast, tricky left-winger and initially insisted all coaches when theyed his future belonged between the sticks.

Bazunu was eventually persuaded to pursue this route, using these ball-playing skills to his advantage in a world where modern goalkeepers need to be about more than making saves.

“The game really is evolving in terms of how brave goalkeepers have to be and not just in the old sense of coming for crosses and being strong. It’s a side of the game I really enjoy, being creative. Some people see goalkeepers as destroyers but to be creative is a really important part. You see the way so many teams are starting to play out, the goalkeepers start the attacks.” — Gavin Bazunu

Playing tendencies, according to WhoScored

He soon made his club debut aged just 16, quickly catching attention by bagging four clean sheets and a penalty save from four appearances.

Manchester City swiftly swooped in to buy this potential for a small fee, giving Bazunu playing time for their under-18 and under-23 sides before easing him into English league football.

Regular starts occurred during a loan move to Rochdale, although he stayed on the bench for the final nine matches of a season that ultimately ended in relegation.

Manager Brian Barry-Murphy didn’t rest him for performance-related reasons. Instead, he believed the youngster was due a rest following his Ireland debut, before perhaps feeling a more experienced stopper was needed in their bid to escape the drop.

2021/22 saw Bazunu remain in League One, this time at Portsmouth. 16 clean sheets from 44 league appearances led to him claiming their Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards.

Totalling 135 saves over the campaign, Bazunu earned a lot of admirers and it will hurt Pompey fans to see him turn up at their rivals.

WHERE BAZUNU FITS IN AT SOUTHAMPTON

For such a fee, it could be assumed that Bazunu has been told he will be a starting Premier League rather than being back-up to Ederson at Man City.

However, this didn’t materialise when a similar transfer took Angus Gunn between the sides in 2018.

Season Goalkeeping starts
2021/22 Fraser Forster (19) Alex McCarthy (17) Willy Caballero (2)
2020/21 Alex McCarthy (30) Fraser Forster (8)
2019/20 Alex McCarthy (28) Angus Gunn (10)

Indeed, Hasenhuttl seems to encourage competition between the sticks and FPL managers may want to hold off on Bazunu until it becomes clear whether he is rotation-proof.

Southampton’s eight clean sheets of last season were below average and five of these came in the opening 11 Gameweeks. By conceding 67 goals, they are ranked fourth-worst throughout the league.

Another thing that may worry potential FPL owners is the Saints’ end-of-season form, with just one win from their final 12 outings.

“The biggest thing is opportunity, that I can come here and fight for my place is probably the biggest thing. I want to continue the gametime I’ve been getting over the past two years and obviously I want to play. I need to first of all prove that I’m ready to play, and if I get the opportunity I need to perform to keep my place.” — Gavin Bazunu

IS BAZUNU WORTH BUYING IN FPL?

Furthermore, Southampton’s opening set of fixtures could see this bad run continue. Meetings with Spurs (a), Leicester City (a), Manchester United (h) and Chelsea (h) sit within their first five clashes, which gives enough time to see if either Bazunu or Alex McCarthy begin with the shirt.

This uncertainty should see both handed a £4.5m FPL price tag. Once fixtures improve, a place for Bazunu could have promising potential.


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