Since making his debut for Southampton’s first-team back in August 2014, Matt Targett has wormed his way into the starting line-up on a number of occasions through injuries, rotation and systematic changes. But ultimately, he’s failed to ever truly cement his place in the starting XI, and is it any wonder with England International Ryan Bertrand as competition?
So with Targett being 22-years-old, and Southampton desperately struggling for form, the club came to the conclusion that a loan spell elsewhere would be best for his development.
Such a decision would only prove valuable, however, if Targett’s receiving regular game-time and playing an attractive brand of football, that fits in with Southampton’s ethos (even if our first-team are currently failing to do the latter).
His destination? Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham, and since joining on the 22nd of January 2018, It’s fair to say that this deal has worked out perfectly for all parties involved.
So join us as we speak with Fulham fan and sports journalist, Rhys Daly, to find out how Targett’s settling into life in London.
What were yours and the Fulham fan bases initial thoughts when Matt Targett joined?
All the fans were delighted when he signed. From the start of the window it was clear we only needed a left-back and a centre-forward, something the board listened to and achieved.
At the start of the season we signed Rafa Soares on loan from Porto and I had high expectations of him. To my disappointment, Soares failed to achieve match fitness and force himself into the side, which left Ryan Sessegnon as our only player comfortable playing in that position.
How have Fulham fans taken to Targett so far?
Despite only making five starts, Fulham fans love him. His role gives Sessegnon freedom to play on the wing with security behind him. Having said that, Targett has been far more than just a shield; he likes to get forward and deliver crosses and even got on the scoresheet away to Bolton.
What have been his greatest strengths?
I’ve been particularly impressed with his 1v1 defending. Even though he is only 22, you can see he has experience at a higher level each time he plays.
Has he shown any areas of weakness so far?
The only weakness I’ve seen came against Bristol City last Wednesday. He wasn’t directly at fault but their goal but it did come down the left side. He limped off injured but the club are yet to announce the severity of it so I expect it’s just an impact problem.
What type of role and responsibilities has Slavisa Jokanovic handed Targett?
The combination of having a more balanced defence all while giving Sessegnon more freedom is already crucial to our chances of promotion. Jokanovic will have certainly told Targett how important he is and he will probably be thriving off being a key cog in the machine.
Given that he’s made over 20 Premier League appearances for Southampton since 2014, have you been able to tell that he’s plied his trade in England’s top division?
His Premier League experience has given him so much confidence, I would say he isn’t far from being a regular in the top division and slightly unlucky to have not played more there already.
And finally, from what you’ve seen so far, would you be interested in retaining Targett’s services? And if so, do you think it’s possible?
Fans would be ecstatic if we could sign Targett permanently. If we don’t go up and Southampton stay in the Premier League I would be very surprised if a deal would be reached. In the few appearances that he’s made for us he’s been in the WhoScored Team of the Week twice and the EFL Team of the Week over three successive weeks. As well as many other clubs, Southampton will be aware of just how well he is performing.