Transfers

Hoedt’s transfer to Southampton confirmed as imminent

The wishes of Southampton fans will soon come true, with Wesley Hoedt’s transfer from Lazio to Southampton all but complete.

For weeks now the rumours have been circulating regarding the future of the Dutch centre-back, but yesterdays quotes from Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi have brushed aside any remaining doubts.

“The boy wants to play with more continuity. He just doesn’t have the opportunity here. A dissatisfied player can not stay. By tomorrow he will go to Southampton. He and (Balde) Keita will have to be replaced.”

This follows on from comments made by Lazio’s sporting director Igili Tare, who stated that Hoedt “requested to be transferred.

“He wants to be a starter in England and will be transferred to Southampton in the near future.

“He has had a positive experience here in Rome. I wish him all the best.”

The original fee offered to Lazio was believed to be in the region of £15.5M, but Sky in Italy have since stated that the final deal is nearing £17M. This would mean that Southampton have now twice beaten their club-record transfer fee prior to this window – £16M paid for Sofiane Boufal last summer.

What appears to be most encouraging about this deal however, is the numerous reliable sources claiming that this transfer bears no implications on Virgil Van Dijk’s future. Hoedt is being signed to strengthen our defensive options and hopefully form a double Dutch partnership within our back line – only time will tell with the latter however.

With Hoedt’s arrival on the South coast imminent and Southampton standing strong over Van Dijk, it’s not long now until we can see a Mauricio Pellegrino team firing on all cylinders.

Southampton bid €17M for Lazio’s Wesley Hoedt

According to the latest reports by Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Southampton have made a €17M offer for Lazio’s Wesley Hoedt.

The report states that the bid was submitted last night, and whilst it’s still yet to be accepted, the €17M on the table does match Lazio’s initial valuation of the player at the start of this window.

To many looking in from the outside this will be considered an attempt to secure Virgil Van Dijk’s replacement, but given the clubs consistently strong stance on the situation, this could still be the Fonte funds being reimbursed.  Reports from the ever reliable Simon Peach have also reinforced that.

This report will no doubt be encouraging news for fans, who despite feeling optimistic about life under Mauricio Pellegrino, can see that our current defence doesn’t match up to that of previous seasons.

Whilst Maya Yoshida greatly improved last season and Jack Stephens is proving himself to be a promising talent, fans are hoping for a little more ambition as teams around us continue to strengthen in the transfer market.

As a pair the two have put in some fantastic performances, but they still hold the tendency to get bullied in the air, drawn out of position and left exposed. In a dream scenario Yoshida can act as reliable back-up, whilst we allow Stephens to progress alongside a player of Hoedt’s quality.

The Dutchman has proven himself to be a strong and dependable centre-back in the top flight of Italian football for the past two seasons, helping Lazio to finish eighth and fifth respectively.

Of those to contest 50+ aerial duels in Serie A this term, only Bruno Alves (79.3%) came close to Hoedt in the air, who recorded a staggering 84.1%. Given Southampton’s evident shortcomings in the air at the minute, this interest certainly doesn’t surprise me. Especially when his ability to build from the back has also been praised during his time at Lazio – something that’s to be expected if you wish to be a Southampton centre-back.

An insight into Mario Lemina

Whilst some were bemoaning Southampton’s lack of transfer activity this summer, the board decided to respond in the finest fashion; by securing the services of Juventus’s Mario Lemina for a club-record fee.

The midfielder has joined the club on a five-year contract for an initial £15.4m, that has the potential to rise to £18.1m. Lemina has been detailed as an athletic, powerful, box-to-box midfielder, who is capable of initiating counter attacks, whilst also boasting the defensive mindset to help out his midfield partner; good news for Oriol.

Lemina spent his youth career developing with FC Lorient in France, rising up the ranks to make his first team debut at just 18 years old. During his first and only season with the Ligue 1 outfit, he greatly impressed and soon after prompted Marseille to chase for his signature. He joined the club at the start of the 2013-14 season, and whilst he struggled to make his mark in the side during his first year, his talent was clear to see. It was with the appointment of Marco Biesla in May 2014 however, which brought about the Gabonese International’s finest form. Lemina played a vital role in helping Marseille finish fourth in the Ligue 1 table.

Throughout the summer of 2015, Lemina was the host of plenty of Premier League attention (by some accounts, this is when Southampton’s interest started) but on deadline day, it was Juventus who came out on top. They signed Lemina on a season long loan with a view to a permanent at the end of the season, and over the next year he faced the impossible challenge of fighting for a place amongst Juve’s midfield. Despite only starting seven Serie A fixtures, he did show glimpses of his talent, causing Juventus to activate the €9.5M release clause agreed in his loan deal. The following season however would follow the same story line as his first year with the Old Lady, and this brings us to today…

To gain further insight into just what type of player we’re acquiring, I spoke with Juventus fan, Marco Messina – the owner of ItalianFootballTV.

“Mario Lemina is a young player – 23 years old. He’s raw but you can see his talent shine through. Unfortunately I’ve never been a big fan of him to be honest; he’s a good dribbler but far too raw for a team like Juventus. Maximiliano Allegri actually liked him if you remember that he was subbed on many times in the Champions League. His time at Juventus wasn’t the best, as there were too many good players in front of him, and unfortunately he wasn’t good enough to ever break through. The general feeling is that Juventus fans are happy Lemina is leaving as he was holding up a spot for a better player in the squad. Maybe the Premier League could suit him better and at a club like Southampton, he’s actually going to get real time to play so it could be perfect for him.”

Could Southampton Move for Nicolai Muller This Summer?

Nicolai Muller isn’t a household name in European football but he could mature into a top talent should he move to the Premier League this summer. Southampton have been linked with the 29-year-old for well over a month now but those links have intensified now that Muller has rejected a contract extension with current club Hamburg. He has been on Southampton’s radar for some time and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Mauricio Pellegrino’s side make a concrete bid for the winger.

Back in 2015, he scored one of the most important goals in Hamburg’s 128-year history; a winner against Karlsruher that helped the club avoid relegation. Since then, Muller has blossomed into a fan favourite with the Hamburg faithful but he is out of contract next summer and the club may push to sell the wantaway winger in the next month.

With 14 goals in 49 appearances over the last two seasons, Muller has been a key figure for Hamburg but it is now time to move on. At 29 years old, Muller has to move now or he’ll never go. According to various reports, Saints and fellow Premier League outfit West Ham were interested in signing Muller back in July and a move to St Mary’s could materialise if Pellegrino is still interested.

At the time of writing, Hamburg are priced at 2/1 for relegation this season according to Bundesliga betting odds and Muller might want to get out now in order to preserve his reputation. According to various reports, Wolfsburg and Schalke, arguably better placed to avoid dropping down to Germany’s second tier, have shown interest in signing the winger and a move to a rival could be on the cards.

Hamburg want to keep the player but the club are in a difficult position. Should Saints come in with an offer that they can’t refuse, Hamburg will almost certainly accept. From there, it is a matter of convincing Muller to leave his native Germany for England and the Premier League. If Pellegrino can convince Muller that he will be a valuable member of his squad, he could push to join Saints before the end of August.

Saints could do with somebody like Muller to keep defenders on the back foot. Yes, he is a relatively unknown quantity but that could work in Pellegrino’s favour – signing the Hamburg man might be straightforward if Southampton can fend off West Bromwich Albion. His pace and tenacity out wide would certainly give Saints an edge and new dimension going forward and Shane Long could prosper from Muller’s blistering speed.

Hamburg have been flirting with relegation from the Bundesliga for a few years now and Muller knows that the club are on a downward slope. Muller was hampered by injury last season and he was sorely missed – they always tend to perform better with the 29-year-old in the side. With five goals and six assists in 22 Bundesliga appearances, Muller had a solid year statistically and Saints would benefit from his impact. Over to you, Mr Pellegrino…

Southampton F.C. – a plethora of attacking talent

Since the beginning of the summer transfer window, we as fans have been inundated with attacking talent in the Premier League – It’s truly a neutral’s dream-league of world-class strikers, wingers and attacking midfielders ranging from all areas of the table.

Teams like West Ham have brought in a proven goal-scorer in the form of Javier Hernández, Manchester United have purchased arguably the best striker in the league in Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea have bought a very promising Spaniard in Álvaro Morata, whilst other teams such as Man City and Tottenham have retained their star strikers Harry Kane and Sergio Agüero.

But whilst this has left many football fans up and down the country excited with their new signings, I’ve seen some Southampton fans lose sight of the talent that we have sitting before our very eyes.

I personally believe that at St. Mary’s, we too have a lot of attacking flair – arguably even more than in seasons gone by – and as I have already alluded to in a previous article, some of those players will have their first full pre-season at the club.

The Finisher

I have my reservations about Charlie Austin’s talent as a footballer on the whole; he is not very athletic, quick, or even entirely skilful. However, the man is a finisher. In the 2016/17 season, Austin scored six and assisted once in 11 premier league starts, and in the 2014/15 premier league campaign, he scored 18 times and assisted five times in 35 starts, for a QPR side that was relegated. Whilst I do not like to heavily rely on stats, no one can argue with Austin’s finishing ability and I am definitely of the opinion that he can score 15+ PL goals, should he play most games.

I do have a few worries with Austin, though. Primarily, I’m not sure he fits into Mauricio Pellegrino’s high-pressing style of play: he isn’t quick enough nor does he have the stamina to press a top-flight defence and latch on to loose balls. I hope that his lust for goals can sway Pellegrino onside, and to push us on in the hunt for more European football.

The Space Finder

His Italian heritage isn’t the only thing that makes many pundits connect him to Filippo Inzaghi; Manolo Gabbiadini’s sheer ability to find pockets of space and get beyond defenders despite his lack of natural pace is astonishing. With four goals in his first three premier league games, we thought he could set the league on fire before his injury at Tottenham, after which he struggled to find the net. However, considering he slotted straight into the side without having a chance to fully train with his teammates, and without any knowledge of the English language, he was an absolute hit. My hope for Manolo is that he uses the full pre-season under the new manager to fully comprehend the language and style of play, whilst also developing cohesive relationships on the pitch with the other players. Solely based on his first four games, including a stellar EFL cup final performance, we could see 15-20 Premier League goals from the Italian in the 2017/18 campaign.

One other point on Gabbiadini is his versatility: he can provide goals as a lone striker, he can cut inside from the right wing as more of an inside forward to compliment Austin, and I believe that with his abilities he could play just behind a striker in the “number 10” role, as more of a shadow striker. His capability to play a number of roles and positions will make him one of Pellegrino’s favourite players, and scare the life out of PL defences.

The Back-up Speedster

Whilst last season he was more the villain of the year rather than star of the season, Shane Long provides much needed cover for our main two strikers. In the 2015/16 season under Ronald Koeman, he played a crucial role in securing Europa League football for the Saints, by chasing down loose balls, pressing defenders and through some instinctive finishing, so his value must not be forgotten. I believe he will be an asset to the squad, playing mostly EFL and FA cup games, providing depth and competition for the aforementioned strikers.

As I have also mentioned, Long is ideal for systems that look to press defences in order to cause mistakes and create more chances. Pellegrino may find that Long is his perfect striker for this system, and I am hoping that under a new, more attack-minded manager, the Irishman can get back to his best form.

The Young Target Man

We also have a young, hungry, English academy graduate who plays a different role to the three above. Sam Gallagher can provide a completely different striker, and one that we were missing last season after Graziano Pellè’s departure: the target man. Last season, he scored 11 goals in 35 starts for the now relegated Blackburn Rovers in the Championship, and I am hoping that he manages to translate this potential into performances when given the opportunity at St. Mary’s next season. His aerial prowess and physicality gives us a different dimension to our attacking line, should he be given game time.

Although I would keep in mind that he lacks Premier League experience and is only 21 years of age; it is unlikely that he will play many games, but like Long, he adds competition and cover for our frontline, but he is also an academy graduate, something us Saints fans are hugely proud of.

The Midfielders

Most Southampton fans can be forgiven for being underwhelmed by our attacking performances under Claude Puel last season, but in spite of our lack of goals from strikers, I think that some of our midfielders need to step up and play more of a role in creating and scoring goals. Nathan Redmond was the standout, and I am hoping that he can provide more goals and assists from the wings, with his pace and determination. I also believe that Dušan Tadić must improve on last season, and create more clear-cut chances for our strikers, which is something the Serbian was lacking under Puel.

Finally, my diamond in the rough for the season is Sofiane Boufal. With a full pre-season under a new manager and the opportunity to form new attacking relationships with his teammates, I’m sure that Sofiane can only improve – especially when you consider that he joined us having missed pre-season whilst also nursing an injury. I hope that he can be the signing we all wanted him to be last summer, and that there is still a huge amount to come from him, including a new found sharpness in front of goal.

These are the many reason why we haven’t rushed to sign another forward, and why in my opinion, we probably don’t need one.

Would Andre Ayew Be A Good Signing For Southampton?

Southampton have struggled to add to their squad this summer, but an interesting option could be to add Ghanaian misfit Andre Ayew to their squad.

It is now looking increasingly likely that Virgil van Dijk will leave Southampton for a huge fee, after the player was left out of the clubs training camp in France. It looks as if the club are coming to the realization that they will have to let the wantaway defender move on. If that happens, the club will be armed with a sizeable transfer kitty.

Ayew arrived at West Ham just a year ago for a reported fee of £20million. I expect that Southampton would not have to pay any more than that amount to convince West Ham to part with their, not so successful signing.

Last season Southampton certainly lacked creativity and goals. Ayew can score and assist regularly and would be a bright spark in the final third for the club. The Saints top assister last season was Dusan Tadic with just 5 and their top scorer was Nathan Redmond with 7.

Despite his limited game time last season (16 starts, 9 sub apps), Ayew notched up 6 goals and 3 assists. His best form without a doubt though came at Swansea where he was given more regular game time. He managed 12 league goals in 34 appearances for the Welsh side, playing predominantly in a wide midfield role.

The 27-year-old has struggled to impose himself at West Ham and with the club recently signing Mauro Arnautovic, Ayew’s game time will again be restricted and the temptation of more regular football and a chance to reinvent himself at Southampton could be one he’d be interested in.

Betfred’s Review Page on BettingTop10 tells you the pros and cons about the bookies and where you’ll be able to find best value if you fancy a flutter on Ayew completing this reported move to Southampton.

We can see potential in this rumour and certainly feel like Ayew would be a decent addition to this Southampton squad. He’d provide some goals from wide areas, and there’s not many players in this squad that are capable of that. If a narrower formation is played then he is also capable of playing through the middle. His versatility is certainly attractive.

My centre-back choice for Southampton FC

Many Southampton fans have already highlighted their main objective from the current transfer window; to retain our assets rather than reform our squad. But whilst this is an opinion I certainly share, there’s one position in the side where Southampton Football Club can’t afford to stand still.

Regardless of whether Virgil Van Dijk stays or goes, Mauricio Pellegrino needs another body at the heart of his defence; and in my eyes, Kevin Wimmer fits the billing.

At this point some may understandably have their doubts, due to the 24-year-old spending the past two seasons as back up at Tottenham Hotspur, but hear me out…

First and foremost, being second choice to Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen is certainly no insult; far from it in fact. Under Mauricio Pochettino’s management, the pair have arguably become the strongest centre-back partnership in the Premier League, and given that current Saints Ryan Bertrand and Oriol Romeu were forced out of Chelsea due to unassailable competition, it’s mindless to discount a player’s ability for these reasons.

The Austrian International has built up a reputation as a tough tackling centre-back, who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line and block efforts at all costs. He’s more than capable in the air, and despite his naturally strong physical nature, is accomplished on the ball too – a vital characteristic for being a Southampton centre-back.

However, there are of course some areas of his game that desperately need work.

Wimmer deputised well for Vertonghen over the 2015/16 season, and barely put a foot wrong; proving himself to be reliable back up should anyone be on the injury table. But over the 2016/17 season and so far in pre-season, Spurs fans have found that the lack of game time has taken a toll on his fitness. His reading of the game is also struggling at the minute too, with opportunities coming few and far between.  

But when you consider Pochettino’s demands of a centre-back, it’s understandable as to why Wimmer has struggled over the past 12 months. Wimmer’s not a quick defender by any means, so when he plays in a defensive line as high and physically demanding as Tottenham’s, he’s naturally going to be exposed in these areas of his game. On top of this, he can’t evade pressure or carry the ball out of defence quite like Vertonghen or Alderweireld, meaning he’s forced to operate in a system that doesn’t play to his strengths.

What’s most encouraging about these current shortcomings however, is that all of them can be solved under the right management and set up; something Southampton Football Club have shown with a number of players in recent years.

Wimmer would be my personal choice, but of course I would back any other first-team signing given our track record. The bottom line however is that we simply have to get someone through the door; not only to potentially prepare for a Van Dijk exit this summer, but also to ensure that we have a mature defender who knows his demands if Van Dijk departs next year.

Aiming to form an entirely new defensive partnership in just one window is a risk that would be all too mindless to take.

I’m confident that if our club is keeping tabs on Wimmer – as some reports are suggesting – we’d be able to mould our system to his strengths, and he could get back to realising the joys of being a truly valued squad member. He only has to ask Romeu and Bertrand what it’s like…

Review: Southampton’s summer so far

Like many of you reading this, I spend a large amount of time in my day-to-day life checking the saintsFC hashtag on twitter, trying to find the latest news about all things Southampton F.C.

Over the past six weeks, things at Saints have been, in some ways, as turbulent as ever – our captain has declared himself mentally unfit to play, we have a new manager and there are constant links to European gems. However, in many ways, it has been a much quieter summer than in years passed, so I’d like to jot down a few feelings that I believe many Saints fans will share, and I’m going to break it down into four sections.

DISCLAIMER: Like all football fans, I am reactionary to a lot of news, and I have no insider knowledge at the club, as some other fans believe they do.

The Manager:

From his first interview as new Southampton manager, to his handling of the Virgil Van Dijk saga, I have been thoroughly impressed by Mauricio Pellegrino. Solely based upon the way he has spoken and his demeanour in interviews, we have seen his calmness, we have been engaged by his desire to play pressing, attacking football (something found wanting under Puel), and he also managed to convey the fact that he will take each game as it comes, playing to our strengths but accepting when to take a more conservative approach (something he was highly praised for at Alavés). Our pre-season friendlies have not set the world on fire by all accounts, but we must keep in mind that these matches are organised for team cohesion, fitness and adaptation to the new manager’s philosophy. His tendency to play a 4-2-3-1 has intrigued me, as it has worked in the past at St. Mary’s and is probably the formation that suits our current squad best.

Mauricio Pellegrino has managed to captivate and unite a fan-base that had been heavily divided under Claude Puel, he seems to have also intrigued many Southampton players, who again were divided under the previous manager. I am truly excited to see his press conferences, his team’s style of playing and to see where we end up under MoPe next season. One final point, though, I think his spoken English is excellent. Out of our last three managers, only Ronald Koeman truly captured the fans in press conferences and pre/post match interviews. I think this could be something MoPe manages to do with the language he uses and the way he speaks English, subconsciously swaying fans onside.

The Players:

From the way in which Southampton F.C. has used youtube, twitter and other social media, it is easy to see that squad harmony is at a much higher level than it has been for the last 12 months. The players seem to have bought into the new manager, they seem much happier, and they seem much more motivated than they were under the aforementioned Puel. I have seen and read interviews with certain players, most recently with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who, for me, could have a breakout season if given the chance. He admitted that the pre-season has been good thus far, that the players are enjoying the new manager, and that he wants to thrive this season under MoPe. For such a young man, he’s more mature than most footballers, and I am really excited by the prospect of more appearances for him this season, hopefully whilst learning under a manager who places faith in him.

Other special mentions have to go to Sofiane Boufal, who with a full pre-season could be another breakout star. Just from pre-season I’ve seen more defensive urgency from Sofiane than ever before, perhaps in an attempt to coerce Pellegrino into believing in him?

We Saints fans are proud of our academy graduates, and with new contracts for Gallagher and Stephens, and McQueen and Sims earlier in the year, it seems like Pellegrino and the board have agreed again on the promotion of youth. Like most of you, I never particularly liked Claude Puel’s beliefs in football, but he did manage to promote a number of youth players who shone under him, something that I hope continues under the new manager.

Virgil Van Dijk:

Here we go then, the arrogant, petulant, opinion-dividing centre-back that is both our best player and captain. As with many of you, I change my opinion every single day on him. One day, I want to hold him to ransom, force him to see out the remainder of his contract, just to prove a point to the “bigger” clubs that we are no longer a selling club. Other days, I want to get rid of him for £70 million, and to reinvest the whole of that sum in 2/3 quality players who both want to be here, and will improve our squad on the whole. But now that I’ve had a chance to sit back, to think about him and to come to a reasonable conclusion; I will have faith in whatever MoPe decides to do with him. From every statement made by both the club hierarchy and the manager since his appointment, it seems as though Pellegrino will have the final say on VVD’s future. I think his handling of our captain has been excellent, trying to get him on side, but accepting that squad harmony is more important than one player’s selfish needs. It will all come to a decision after the squad get back from France, it seems.

In the case that VVD does end up going, please not to Liverpool. It’s getting boring now. But who would I have as captain? I have seen lots of tweets arguing in favour of Oriol Romeu, and whilst he was excellent last season, he’s still only had one good season from start to finish. My pick would be England international and Champions League winner Ryan Bertrand, who seems set to stay this summer, and my hope would be that making him captain convinces him to stay for the long run. If Bertrand communicates his desire to seek pastures new following this season however, then we should of course avoid handing him the captaincy – we don’t want to find ourselves in a Virgil 2.0 situation. 

Transfers:

Finally, the interesting bit… or is it? Like most football fans, I want to see my team sign new players, so that I can get even more excited about the coming season, but it isn’t that summer at St. Mary’s. Almost every player we’ve been linked with has been ruled out of a move; Vietto was shot down overnight by sources close to the club, according to Adam Blackmore, Munir and Allan I just don’t buy into, and Stuart Armstrong’s transfer has gone very quiet, too. From an outsider looking in, I believe that this is the summer where we keep our players, rather sell and reinvest. Even the VVD saga has not ended up in a bid, and should we end up selling him for a premium, that is the only moment I’d expect us to spend big; when we have already made money.

But after a lot of thought, I think this is a highly positive outcome for the club on the whole. It means that all of our players will be Premier League ready, with experience of the league. They will know each other, and the manager, after a full pre-season together. Those who missed out on full pre-seasons last summer (Boufal and Gabbiadini due to later, and January arrivals) will now have a chance to build full relationships with their teammates. It is a cause for joy that, for once, we may not sell star players, and if we do, it will only be because the manager sanctioned the deal and thought it best for all parties, rather than the club being bullied by a larger club. As always, I am expecting a couple of additions, should some players depart, but our starting XI is looking very capable as things stand, should no player leave, and I believe that no outgoings and few players coming in will be a blessing after recent years.

Is Remy right for Pellegrino’s Southampton?

Once a fully fledged French International and a menace to Premier League defences, Loic Remy’s career has come to somewhat of a standstill, as he finds himself locked out of Antonio Conte’s plans.

Sky Sports have since reported however that he’s free to leave the club this summer, stating that Southampton are one of three clubs interested in the Frenchman.

Remy travelled with the Blues squad for pre-season and even scored twice during an 8-2 win over Fulham, but it seems that he was selected solely to improve his fitness.

So with Remy firmly placed in Roman Abramovich’s shop window, and Southampton fans divided in opinion, is this a deal that takes my fancy? And is it the kind of gamble Southampton Football Club should be taking?

Firstly, it’s only right to paint the picture of Remy as a footballer; he’s an experienced centre-forward who at 30 years of age, is still quick on his feet and cool in front of goal. He’s a more than capable dribbler on the ball, and whilst his movement is generally considered intelligent, he’s considerably more effective in sides that look to counter attack.

He’s proven himself as lethal forward in Ligue 1 from 2008-13 – maintaining a one-in-two strike rate – before scoring 20 Premier League goals in just 42 appearances for QPR and Newcastle United.

From this profile it would seem like a no-brainer to race for Remy’s signature. However, I have my reservations for a number of reasons…

Since moving to Chelsea in 2014, Remy has featured in just 37 Premier League fixtures, scoring eight goals. And whilst failing to start for Chelsea is certainly no insult, that tally includes a miserable half-season loan spell at Crystal Palace, where he failed to open his goalscoring account in red and blue.

It’s been a long while since Remy has been able to string together a number of promising performances, and injuries have certainly played their part too. As the years have gone on, it seems that injury is waiting for the Frenchman around each and every corner; this is an attribute that we certainly don’t need in our squad. Regular injuries not only cost the club, but they also disrupt the way the team are playing, as someone else with different qualities takes their place.

On top of this, Remy hardly makes for the most Southampton-esque signing given his age; there’s little room for development, next to no sell on value, and the possibility that he blocks the pathway into the first team for others.

Not to mention that with Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini, Remy will be facing hot competition, and I’m not convinced that’s what he needs for his own development. In order to get back to his best, he needs a guarantee of consecutive starts with limited competition and a manager who trusts him – something we can’t offer.

Admittedly Remy’s pace does offer us something different in our frontline, and I’m sure that under the right management, a revival of his career can be made. But when you consider the high wage bill, missing form and recurring injuries, I can’t help but feel this is all too big of a gamble for Southampton Football Club.

Time for Southampton to cash in on Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the Premier League; there are no two ways about it. The Netherlands international has been on the books of Southampton since 2015, and over the past two seasons, he has shown what he is capable of.

Many would have been sceptical of Van Dijk when Southampton signed him from Scottish Premiership giants Celtic in the summer of 2015. It cost the Saints as much as £13 million in transfer fees, but the 26-year-old centre-back has proved to be worth every penny.

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that top clubs in England want to sign Van Dijk in the summer transfer window. Liverpool have been strongly linked with the former Groningen star, who is also reported to be on the radar of Tottenham Hotspur, who finished second in the Premier League last season. 

Liverpool could do with a centre-back of Van Dijk’s quality in their quest to finish in the top four for the second successive campaign. As for Spurs, if they bring in the Dutchman, then it would not be a bad idea to take advantage of a £20 free bet bonus and place it on the North London club to win the Premier League title next season at odds of 8/1 – they would become that strong in defence.

Southampton have stated on more occasions than one that they are not planning to sell Van Dijk in the summer transfer window, but every player has his price. A bid of over £40 million should be enough to convince the Saints to part company with the former Celtic star. After all, it is only a matter of time before the Dutchman leaves St. Mary’s Stadium. The 26-year-old’s stock is high at the moment, and it would make sense for Southampton to cash in on him and then bring in maybe a couple of young and promising centre-backs.

The Saints’ model of buying low and selling high has worked for a while now. Southampton took a chance on Van Dijk two years ago, and it worked. Instead of holding onto the defender for one more season, they should now be willing to let him leave this summer. There are plenty of young and promising defenders out there for the Saints to buy on the cheap this summer, develop them and then sell them at a high price in a few years’ time. Even if new manager Mauricio Pellegrino wants an established centre-back, he would still get to buy one with the money from Van Dijk’s sale and still have some change.

Celtic centre-back Erik Sviatchenko would not be a bad signing for Southampton; the 25-year-old Denmark international would come relatively cheap as well. Kieran Tierney is a left-back by trade, but the 20-year-old Celtic star could be moulded into a centre-back. Everton may not be willing to sell Mason Holgate in the summer transfer window, but the Saints could try to sign the 20-year-old, who can operate as a full-back or as a centre-back, on a season-long loan deal.