Ross County have signed Southampton winger Kazeem Olaigbe on a season-long loan deal.
Belgian under-19 international Olaigbe has impressed with Saints’ under-23s side, where he netted 12 goals in 23 appearances last term.
The 19-year-old signed a new contract with Saints in February to keep him at St Mary’s until 2024.
Olaigbe flew into Verona late on Saturday night, in order to join Malky Mackay’s side on their pre-season training camp for the remainder of this week.
Mackay says Olaigbe – who has yet to feature for Southampton’s first team – will be given every opportunity to thrive as he takes his first steps in senior football.
Belgian will be given opportunity to follow Hungbo’s pathway
The Staggies boss hopes Olaigbe can follow in the same pathway as Joseph Hungbo, who arrived on loan from Watford with little first team experience last summer before going on to become a stellar performer for the Dingwall outfit.
Mackay said: “Kazeem is a young, exciting talent.
“He is probably in the same mould as Joseph Hungbo was last year. He was coming in with not a lot of experience in the league.
“Kazeem has done well for the under-23s in Premier League 2. He was up for player of the year in the league, which shows how well he is thought of.
🖊️𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐊𝐚𝐳𝐞𝐞𝐦 𝐎𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐠𝐛𝐞
Kazeem has joined The Staggies on a season-long loan from English Premier League side Southampton.
He has joined up with the rest of the squad in Italy 🇮🇹
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) June 27, 2022
“He is a Belgian youth international who has been involved in their under-19s European Championships.
“There is clearly quality there. What he now needs to do is go out and play, and test himself against men.
“I have been there, seen it and done it, so I will know how we need to bleed him in and look after him.
“He can play as a winger or a 10, so it brings us competition in those wide areas.”
Strong relationship built with Southampton
Olaigbe becomes the latest player to join County on loan from Southampton, following on from defenders Jake Vokins and Kayne Ramsay, who made the temporary switch north last season.
Former Saints winger Josh Sims is also part of the Staggies’ squad for the new campaign.
Mackay says Saints’ loans manager Danny Butterfield has been a crucial contact for the Staggies in building the relationship between the two clubs.
Mackay added: “He will be our third loan player from Southampton, and there is also Josh who was there for a period of time.
“The conversations we have had between ourselves and Southampton over the last year have been terrific.
“Danny Butterfield, the loans manager, at Southampton has had a lot to do with it.
“He has been a constant on the phone over the whole year, we have been able to get hold of him immediately. He has been a great ambassador for the club and has been up a couple of times.
“I would like to think it’s a two-way relationship that they see us as a club they can trust.
“When we hand the player back, we hand them back with a document which encapsulates their whole time here both on and off the pitch. It shows how they have improved and what they have been like as a boy, as well as the sports science and statistics about their physical data.
“We have got great respect for them. I’m thankful to Southampton and the staff down there for this little relationship.”