Daily Echo:

Mauricio Pellegrino is "ready" for the big step up to the Saints job, according to Spain-based football journalist Andrew Gaffney.

The Argentine is on a very short shortlist of prospective replacements for Claude Puel, who was sacked last week after just one year in charge.

Former Ajax boss Frank de Boer is another man the club's hierarchy will be interviewing for the role.

Pellegrino, who was assistant manager to Rafael Benitez at Liverpool and Inter Milan, was most recently in charge of Alaves of the Spanish top-flight, leading the newly-promoted side to the Copa del Rey final and an unexpected ninth place finish.

The 45-year-old also had a difficult  spell at the helm of notoriously turbulent outfit Valencia in 2012, before spells in his homeland with Estudiantes and Independiente.

Here, the Daily Echo discusses the suitability of Pellegrino for the St Mary's role with Spanish football writer Gaffney, who has covered La Liga clubs for the English press for the past four years and previously worked for Valencia.

  • What are Pellegrino's strengths and weaknesses?

I think the key strength with Pellegrino is his ability to learn and improve. So many ex-pros come through believing they know it all, that they have the experience and refuse to accept criticism or adapt to new surroundings. He isn't like that despite having worked under Marcelo Bielsa, Rafa Benitez and Louis Van Gaal. Not a bad trio at all. As for weaknesses, I guess it's not translating that knowledge into results for a big team. His most recent success was keeping Deportivo Alaves well away from the relegation zone and losing to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

Is he ready? I think so. He's a huge fan of the football culture in England, having played and worked there under Benitez. He's someone who dedicates his life to the sport, is always willing to learn, and wants to have a successful career in management. In La Liga it's a rat race for most behind the top three and stability doesn't really exist. To secure one of the truly big jobs in Spain you need to either have a strong connection to the club in question or achieve something abroad.

  • Claude Puel’s brand of football was often viewed as too cautious and even boring – what style would Pellegrino bring?

When you look at Alaves goals scored column, it doesn't look great. 41 is the lowest of the top 14 sides in Spain but instead of seeing that as a negative, it should be viewed as a positive. Fine margins win games and when your objective is survival, even more so. Alaves weren't a defensive first team but often took a few minutes to get going and were a tough nut to break down. Towards the end of the season they took their foot off the pedal as their league position was safe and attention turned to the Copa del Rey. He put a lot of emphasis on the full backs and wide players which helped on the counterattack. They had a main striker who was good in the air but willing to drop back and help out the midfield if need be. Pellegrino favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation but was happy to switch to a back five against tougher opposition. He isn't a fan of long balls though.

  • What is Pellegrino like as a character?

As for personality, I think he's a better fit for the Premier League than Puel due to how much he loves the game. At Alaves he was very close to his staff, from the coaches down to the kit men. He's naturally very friendly, open but not outspoken. He's also very respectful too. He won't be full of soundbites at first but if given the time to settle, hopefully his desire and passion will shine through and he'll become popular with the fans.

  • Would he be a good fit for a club like Saints?

For the reasons stated above, I don't see why he wouldn't fit in well at Southampton. He doesn't have an issue with playing younger players if they're good enough and Southampton have a good history of bringing through academy stars. He prefers to keep the ball on the ground, is very technical, so that too would suit Southampton. It would be a step up but one he's ready for now. He'd be able to work with better players, bring in more talent, and have a stronger squad at his disposal. He wants to reach the very top.

  • And, finally, what is his record like as a manager so far, could it be a risk to hire him?

His managerial record, on the face of it, doesn't look the best. However in the same regard it has only improved over time. Valencia was a mistake. He proved himself not to be ready and less so at a notoriously difficult club to manage. He returned to Argentina where he coached Estudiantes and then Independiente. At the latter he helped the club finish 3rd. Fans were sceptical at first but after six wins from his opening six games they were won over. He also beat River Plate 3-0.

Last season saw him take over at Alaves and again he set about exceeding the expectations the club had. They wanted to avoid relegation, had very little in terms of cash, but Pellegrino wanted more. He beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou and took points off everyone who finished in the European places with the exception of Real Madrid. They finished the season in 9th place and only lost in the Copa del Rey final due to a bit of magic from Lionel Messi.