Southampton fans awoke yesterday morning in the hope of securing a back-to-back Premier League win during their three o’clock fixture against West Brom. However, Southampton made the fans day by early morning, after Sky Sports revealed that the club had agreed on a fee with Queens Park Rangers over Charlie Austin. By the time 12:00 struck, all the paperwork was finished and Austin was now a saint. But, is this yet more astute business for Southampton, what are the worries and how will he fit in?
First things first, the deal. Austin had six months remaining on his contract at QPR, taking him through to the summer as a free agent – clearly aware of the competition for the Englishman, Southampton acted fast, smooth and quiet. The result? acquiring a forward who scored 18 Premier League goals last season for a reported fee of four million. You’ve only got to look as far as Southampton’s south coast neighbours Bournemouth, to see the value held in this deal – the Cherries have forked out £18 million on unproven Premier League talent in Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban.
Not to mention that if Southampton had allowed negotiations to run through into the summer, a rather greedy agent would be wanting his contribution covered by a nice big cheque. As for wages, Southampton can afford to spend bigger on the wage bill due to the discounted asking price.
Four million to obtain a proven goal scoring Englishman is incredible business, no matter how you look at it.
Another area which must be touched upon is his record of injuries; however, as a matter of fact, that argument seems rather fallacious. Austin has scored at least 17 goals in each season as a professional footballer. Clocking up 160 appearances over the past five seasons, that’s over 32 games per season. Not bad for someone that has falsely been labelled as injury ridden.
Regardless of what many bitter fans may say about Austin’s injuries, were guaranteeing at least 13 goals per season. Why is that? well…
18 goals in a side that finished rock bottom of the Premier League last season. 18 goals in a team with next to no service. A player with such class in the box and the ability to create a chance from nothing is mouth watering for a Southampton side that needs a killer instinct. Swapping Matt Phillips for Sadio Mane and Junior Hoilett for Dusan Tadic can only bode well for Southampton fans expectations.
But where will Austin fit in? At this moment in time, it’s rather difficult to say given the sudden form of Shane long and the new change of system. Southampton originally operated as a 4-3-3 this season, but poor form and predictable play resulted in switching to a 5-3-2 formation. Austin typically flourishes when around a player who can help to free up space for him. Given that, the movement, aerial threat and work rate of Shane Long seems a logical match for Austin’s play. To bench the Irishman after recent showings would be simply criminal. This then leaves Koeman the task of finding space for Mane, Davis, Tadic. Rodriguez, Pelle and Targett – Koeman is being presented the best type of managerial nightmare.
Charlie Austin is a name mentioned many times in previous transfer windows for Southampton. Throughout this time, Southampton fans have had that funny old feeling that he would end up leading the line for us. Now it’s come true, we can only hope that the feeling of this transfer being the bargain of the window comes true too.