Since their promotion in 2012-13 campaign after seven seasons of absence, Southampton have been one of the most improved Premier League sides despite losing out their top performers as well as managers to top Premier League outfits.
This season is no different either as they were raided by Premier League big guns once again in summer transfer window. Liverpool, who have previously brought in Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Rickie Lambert, extended the list by completing a £32 mil deal for Senegalese winger Sadio Mane. Star striker Graziano Pelle completed a switch to Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng and midfielder Victor Wanyama joined Tottenham Hotspur to reunite with former Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino. In addition to this, their previous manager Ronald Koeman left the coaching role and joined league rivals Everton despite finishing sixth and qualifying for Europa League group stage.
Major Ins and outs:
Nathan Redmond – Norwich, £11m
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – Bayern Munich, undisclosed
Kieran Freeman – Dundee Utd, compensation
Alex McCarthy – Crystal Palace, £4m
Jeremy Pied- Nice, undisclosed
Sofiane Boufal – Lille, £16m
Sadio Mane – Liverpool, £32m
Victor Wanyama – Tottenham Hotspur, £11m
Juanmi – Real Sociedad, £5m
Paulo Gazzaniga – Rayo Vallecano, loan
Gaston Ramirez – Middlesbrough, free
Kelvin Davis – retired
Graziano Pelle – Shandong Luneng, £12m
Strength: Although they have lost several key figures in recent past, the management have successfully replaced them with quality new signings. They have brought in Frenchman Claude Puel from OGC Nice to carry Koeman’s legacy forward. Also, they made a few exciting signings in form of Sofiane Boufal, Nathan Redmond and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Although they have made a slow start in this campaign with only one win in five league outings, Saints are expected to recover once they gel properly and an amalgam of experienced and the youth is formed. From Cedric to Tadic, they have successfully replaced their star performers and somehow managed to keep hold of the veterans like skipper Jose Fonte and his deputy Steven Davis. Moreover, they have one of the best academies in England that has produced several top footballers over the years : Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana are to name a few.
Weakness: Their biggest failure has been the inability to retain stars. They have successfully replaced them so far, but with the added pressure of European football, Saints will find it difficult to make a top half finish due to increasing competition from several mid-table rivals. Shane Long, who scored 13 goals last campaign, is yet to find his form and failed to replace Graziano Pelle. However, Charlie Austin scored in their first win of this campaign on Sunday when Southampton managed to beat Swansea City, thanks to the Englishman’s solitary goal. nevertheless, they have brought in a few highly promising prodigies who are expected to furnish once they get settled.
Where they can finish: Due to the added pressure of European football, they will find it difficult to register a top six finish this time and the new boss needs some more time to settle down in his new club. The likes of Everton, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Watford have constructed admirable squads as well and are expected to fight for a top half finish. A mid-table finish is on cards for the Saints, but they can definitely do better once they get back their lost momentum.
Photo by CZMJ