Carlisle United are delighted to announce that highly-rated centre back Dynel Simeu has signed for the Blues on a half-season loan deal from Premier League side Southampton.
Simeu, 19, joined the Saints from Chelsea, where he had played since the age of 13. The England under-19 both captained and featured consistently for the Chelsea under-23s team that finished second in Premier League 2 last season, while he also had experience of the first-team environment at Stamford Bridge, including making the bench in a Champions League tie away to Bayern Munich in August 2020.
The Cameroon-born defender grew up in Southampton, and played in the Papa John’s Trophy games against Charlton and Leyton Orient earlier this season.
Manager Keith Millen said: "Dynel is someone I saw at the very beginning of my time here. He was number one on our list and I’ve worked really hard to get him here.
"I’ve driven down to Southampton twice to watch him play, and I met him again on Sunday. I’ve done a lot of hours on this deal, and I have to say Southampton have been good and have kept us updated all the way through.
"There was a hold up because he was in and around the first-team when they had Covid and injuries, so like a lot of Premier League clubs they’ve been holding players back.
"That delayed it for a couple of weeks, but they’re in a better position now and they want him to come and play football."
“He’s a Southampton boy who went to Chelsea, and for him to be in that set-up for the years he was says something about him as a younger player," he added. "He went back to Southampton - which is where he lives with his family - for big money, and he’s played for England.
"There’s a lot going for the lad, and when I met him we spoke about him coming here and me trying to help him develop and get him game time."
On the type of player we can expect to see, he told us: “I like the fact that he can play left and right-sided centre half. He's comfortable on either side which is a massive help.
"He’s big, strong, aggressive and quick, and he’s good on the ball. There’s a lot to work with for me, and I’m really excited that he’s decided to come to us because there was a lot of interest in him.
"He needs to concentrate on being a first-team player until the end of the season, then I think he’ll go back to Southampton a lot closer to being in their thoughts.
“Like I say, he’s very strong and powerful but he’s obviously had a Chelsea and Southampton upbringing. If you’re brought up at that level you need to be able to handle the ball.
"He’s got that, but if you speak to him he likes the physical aspect of the game. He likes to get tight to forwards and compete and fight with them. Hopefully that’s something that he can bring to us, along with his other attributes."
“He needs to learn very quickly from me how I like us to defend, as individuals and as a unit," he continued. "As a unit, we’ve been very good, obviously apart from what happened on Saturday, but generally we’ve been very solid.
"I think that’s something I need to teach him. There’s no doubt he can defend one against one with his attributes, but he needs to put those into practice in a back four. We’ve got lots of work to do, but he’s really keen to come here.
“It’s a long way from Southampton to Carlisle, but it just shows you the attitude of the player that he’s willing to do that to learn and get better.
"He’s been training and he’s ready to go. I think he was on the bench for the first-team in the FA Cup, and part of me was hoping he would be involved, but if he was we probably wouldn’t have been able to sign him."
“Southampton have been great to deal with because they’ve been very honest from day one," he commented. "It was just a case of waiting for the timing to be right, and I’ve kept on and on at them.
"It’s pleasing when you get your number one target in because there’s so much hard work that goes into it. Like I say, I’ve done a lot of travelling, and I think that’s shown him how much we want him here.
"It isn’t just a phone call, I think it’s important to meet players. When we did meet we got on really well, and hopefully that persuaded him to come up here. I think he’s a really positive signing for us."