Ralph Hasenhuttl admits his initial impressions of Armando Broja left him questioning the judgement of Southampton’s scouts but concedes the Chelsea loanee is now proving him wrong.
A day after his 20th birthday, Broja underlined his potential with an electrifying cameo during Saturday’s 0-0 Premier League draw with high-flying West Ham.
The pacey forward – who was born in Slough to Albanian parents – helped change the course of the game and was very nearly Saints’ hero, striking a post and seeing a late header hacked off the line by Declan Rice.
Broja swapped Stamford Bridge for St Mary’s on a season-long deal just over a month ago and scored twice in the south coast club’s 8-0 Carabao Cup win at League Two Newport on August 25.
Southampton boss Hasenhuttl was originally unimpressed with the summer recruit but, following some frank discussions, believes he now adds unique attributes to his squad.
“The first two weeks I was looking what he has to give for me and I didn’t see a lot, to be honest,” said the Austrian.
“He’s a little bit of a slow starter, you need to push him a little bit, and now he’s moving in the direction of what I want to see.
“It’s impressive how quick he learns and how quick he wants to do it better and (on Saturday) I’ve seen why the scouts wanted to sign him.
“He definitely shows qualities we haven’t had so far in this squad and this was very positive for me.”
Saturday’s stalemate was a third successive draw for Southampton, who are still seeking a first win of the new campaign.
Hasenhuttl’s men travel to champions Manchester City next weekend, with Broja – who spent last season at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem – bidding for the maiden Premier League start of his fledgling career.
“The way we play football is a little bit different from what he has played so far, a little bit more energetic,” said Hasenhuttl.
“In the beginning he was – I wouldn’t say lazy – but he didn’t show what he has.
“And if you come into a new club you must show that the players have respect from you and show the qualities you have.
“He did in the last two games when he was coming on – he had a big impact at Newcastle and on Saturday also – and this is for me a very good sign.”