When Southampton signed Nice versatile defender Jeremy Pied back in 2016 as a free agent, it wasn’t a signing that overly excited the fanbase, but it seemed the now 30-year-old would provide decent cover, experience and a few options for then manager Claude Puel.
That wasn’t exactly how things played out as he quickly suffered a serious knee injury that ruled him out for a significant period of time, and with further changes at the club as we slipped into struggles in the Premier League, the Frenchman left St Mary’s Stadium having only made eight appearances in total, and only four of those were starting appearances.
Speaking recently to RMC Sport to reflect on his time in England, the defender was clearly frustrated with his spell at the club, simply because he’d hoped for so much more when achiving his Premier League dream.
“I was coming off my best season at Nice, where I moved to right-back. It was meant to be the next step in my career, abroad at Southampton. It was the season to confirm my ability. It’s a disappointment, but once the knee is broken, what can you do? Either you cry, or you tell yourself you’ve only got two years on your contract and you need to come back quickly.”
With some saying it was a ‘failed experiment’ for him – it was certainly a move that ultimately didn’t work out for either party – he does agree with that summation, but he was looking for the positives as he moves forward with Lille.
“It’s difficult to take positives from it. It’s an experience abroad where I got to learn English and build a family life. I played alongside great players and very good managers. I know how to use that now. English, for example, is important. When new players arrive at Lille, it’s good to have someone in the dressing room who can speak with them. There’s not a lot of us who can do that, and I’m proud of that.”
It’s a shame how it all worked out but unlike some other players who simply didn’t fit the club, failed to settle and failed to perform, at least in Pied’s case it was the injury that really ended things. There’s no guarantees with any transfer, but he was one that may have turned out differently had he got a run of games – even if he was nothing more than reliable backup.