Ralph Hasenhuttl has vowed to protect Tino Livramento despite the rising star’s impressive start at Southampton.
Saints snapped up Livramento from Chelsea for a modest £5million fee given the 18-year-old’s rich promise.
And the Croydon-born full-back has hit form immediately on the south coast, producing a man of the match display in the 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester United.
Saints head to Newcastle on Saturday with Livramento in line to continue at right-back, with boss Hasenhuttl full of praise – but also caution – for the young star.
Asked if Livramento is Southampton’s most exciting signing since Virgil Van Dijk, Hasenhuttl said: “You will never hear me say things like that. It is not good for me, it is not good for him.
“Let us let the guy grow in a good atmosphere where we do not expect too much from him.
“The higher you hang him now, the more you will put him down when it doesn’t work perfectly for him.
“Let’s allow him some time. I will protect him when I need to and give him breaks.
“I have used teenage players with Leipzig in the Champions League and mistakes are normal. When it happens I will know how to handle it.
“This is normal, but what is not normal is that he is this far forward in his development at this stage.”
Southampton will this weekend be looking to improve on their dismal return of just one win in 17 visits to St James’ Park.
Livramento received his first call-up to England’s Under-21s on Friday, with Hasenhuttl suitably impressed by the youngster’s rapid progress.
“Whenever a new player comes to our club it normally takes them a little bit of time, to be honest, with our pressing style and with the intensity with which we train,” said Hasenhuttl.
“When I saw how quickly he got there and how quickly he was able to deliver what we asked of him in this position, I knew that we had something very good, something very special.
“He is already at a very high level and has the whole package, for his age. He is physically and mentally very strong.”
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