AROUNA Kone will strike fear into plenty of Premier League defences this term, according to Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez.
The Ivorian – a summer signing from Levante – was handed his first start at Southampton on Saturday.
And he responded by grabbing his first goal in English football as Latics recorded their first points of the campaign.
The visitors held a precarious 1-0 lead heading into the last minute, when Kone dispossessed the last defender on halfway and raced in on goal, before smashing the ball past Kelvin Davis in clinical fashion.
And Martinez reckons his newest star – who bagged 15 goals in La Liga last term for unfashionable Levante – will become a big star in the Premier League.
“Arouna’s was as difficult an opportunity as you’re going to find,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“He had so much time to think about what he was going to do in a one-against-one situation, away from home in a full stadium.
“But he showed how clinical and composed he is to kill the game.
“On top of that, his work-rate was exceptional, he held the ball up well, and in many ways it was the perfect debut.”
Martinez admitted Kone’s fledgling partnership with Franco di Santo – who scored Wigan’s opener with a right-foot thunderbolt – is already showing hugely-positive signs for the future.
“Nobody deserved that winning feeling more than the two strikers for the work they put in, knowing full-well how much was expected of them at the start of the day,” the Spaniard acknowledged.
“But they’re clever players, and clever players always find a way to play to new systems and overcome new roles.
“Their work-rate and ethic gets them into these dangerous positions, and once they were there they produced such clinical finishes.”
After a sluggish start, when the Saints dominated without managing to find a way past Ali Al Habsi, Latics gained almost-total control after the break and thoroughly deserved their three points.
“We drew on the experiences of playing Swansea early on last season and Blackpool the season before – newly-promoted sides with momentum behind them - knowing that these games are much more than just tactical and technical battles,” Martinez reflected.
“The enthusiasm in promoted sides is so difficult to face, and in the first half-hour we saw that as Southampton put our defence under pressure.
“But we coped very well and were able to call on Ali, who produced some important saves, when we needed him.
“Slowly we imposed ourselves on the game, scored two fantastic goals and kept a clean sheet, which is important at this early stage of the season.”