Ronald Koeman says he was delighted to see Maya Yoshida agree to a new three-year contract with Saints.
The defender has impressed in recent weeks, during a tough fixture schedule for Koeman’s side during December, and committed his future to the club before heading off to represent Japan at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
The defender has played at both centre-back and right-back during the last month, and Koeman believes that versatility is one of Yoshida’s big qualities.
“We’re very happy about that,” Koeman said when speaking to the club’s official YouTube channel. “It’s an example of how you have to deal with being a professional footballer.
“He’s doing well, he’s an important player. We have a lot of competition with the centre-backs in the defence but he’s doing very well and I’m very happy, very pleased about his new contract.
“It’s always good for the coach to have players who can play in different positions, he’s shown that this season. He played right-back and centre-back and it’s very good to have these kinds of players because then you can change positions.
“The African Cup and the Asian Cup mean you lose some players, okay, we knew that a long time before. We have to deal without Maya for I hope three weeks, but maybe longer.”
Another central defender to have impressed during a busy month was Florin Gardos, and with Yoshida departing for international duty, Koeman says he will have an even more important role to play in the coming weeks.
Gardos made his first Premier League start in the win at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, before his first start at St Mary’s in the win against Arsenal, and Koeman believes he has reached the level he needs to be at.
“You see the sharpness of Florin is back in the last few weeks,” Koeman added. “He lacked the rhythm a little bit of playing games in the Premier League.
“I think he’s now ready for that. In the beginning he had some difficulty to keep that rhythm of playing what you need in the Premier League, but you saw when he came in against Chelsea he was very comfortable and he showed that against Arsenal.”