Transfers

Virgil Van Dijk: Southampton’s Latest Transfer Triumph

In recent years Southampton have become famed in the footballing world for their astute deals in business and undeniable eye for talent. However, after last summer’s departure of Toby Alderweireld, even Southampton fans worried how a player of that quality could be replaced. The media and fans alike believed that the previously lauded Southampton transfer committee, had finally met their match. But dare I say it, they may well have surpassed themselves once again with the signing of Virgil Van Dijk.

The slow start to the season and early exit from Europe reinforced those fears; this coincided with the protracted negotiations to bring in the clubs number one target, Celtic’s number 5.

After much haggling and dispute, an agreement was struck between both parties, allowing Virgil Van Dijk to join Southampton.

Since Van Dijk took to his place in the side alongside Jose Fonte, the defence has once again found its feet. Its no surprise that as a result, the beautiful football and results that fans became so accustomed to last season has returned.

The Dutchman’s influence on the team is clear for any Southampton fan to see; a quick look at football statistic site WhoScored proves just that.

Since Van Dijk’s Premier League debut versus West Bromwich Albion, only eight other players in the league have averaged a higher performance score.

His dominance in the air is also reflected by winning an average of 5.3 aerial duels per game – target men Christian Benteke, Rudy Gestede and Troy Deeney are the only players to have won more duels than the Dutch giant. Van Dijk also holds two man of the match performances and two goals in just seven appearances. As dangermen from set pieces come, Van Dijk is as good as they get.

Whilst Van Dijk’s defensive ability is a joy to behold, his influence on the pitch runs far deeper than tackles, headers and blocks. At moments of high pressure, Van Dijk remains as confident and cool on the ball as ever, ensuring to find the right pass.

That right pass can be anything from a midfield splitting ball, a 40 yard Hollywood ping to Sadio Mane or an inch perfect chip to an overlapping fullback.

These traits that make up a ball playing centre half breed confidence throughout the entire team.

Without this so desired confidence and brand of players, Southampton’s style of play would do more harm than good.

However, perhaps one of his greatest traits so far has been what many thought would be his early downfall, settling in to the Premier League. Van Dijk has taken to the Premier League like chips to mayonnaise, forming a formidable partnership with Jose Fonte as the core of the team. A player can hold all the ability and physical presence they wish, but without communication and being in the right place at the right time, that ability is rendered useless.

Much to the annoyance of Celtic fans, Van Dijk recently told the media how he has learnt more in five games at Southampton than his entire time at Celtic Park. Such recognition for the standard of our play and management can only bode well for the future. Should we have ever expected anything else? After all, Southampton’s latest gem was hand picked by fellow countryman, Ronald Koeman, and the almighty black box.

 

Season Review: Five Things Learnt With Five Games Gone

Were well underway in the 2015/16 season and so far it’s been one of mixed emotions for fans on the South coast. Southampton have been battered, done the battering, sent fans to away games more effective than sleeping pills and most importantly, kept hold of stars Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama. So, what have we learnt?

1) Standing ground in the market

The first and perhaps most important lesson is that we have managed to keep a firm grip on our African stars. Both Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane played key roles in last years against all odds season; with such mesmerizing performances, fans were understandably fearing a summer exodus 2.0. All had prepared for yet another social media mockery.

However, Southampton chairman Les Reed ensured to make it clear that no player was to be leaving Southampton for the remainder of the window – this followed from the departures of Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne. Despite manager Ronald Koeman continuing to reiterate Reed’s promise, the rumour mill stops for no one. Tottenham Hotspur fans remained confident of securing the Kenyan’s signature, and in turn, many Southampton fans trembled at the knees. Yet here we are.

Since the Norwich City game it seems that Wanyama’s toys have returned to his pram and all can be dusted behind us. The board have remained strong and it’s an act that fans could certainly get used to.

We wouldn’t have it any other way, would we Saints fans?

well…

2) The Black Box Has Worked Its Magic Once Again

Had it not been for this wonder working machine, Southampton football club may well have been the laughing stock that the media wanted so badly last season.

Now it seems that Southampton have uncovered yet more gems in the form of Romeu ( 4.9 Million from Chelsea ) Cedric Soares ( 4.55 Million from Sporting Clube De Portugal ) and Virgil Van Dijk ( 11 Million from Celtic ). Romeu has offered a much needed presence in midfield after the departure of Schneiderlin to Manchester United. Fans have been wowed by his wide range of passing, passion on the field and crunching tackles; he’s fast becoming a fan favourite, proving to be our best player of the new season along the way.

Then we have the Portuguese International Cedric Soares who has provided an incredible option from the right side with persistent movement, a beautiful cross and stamina to make Steven Davis proud. Our new right back has already notched up one assist in his first five games, beating Nathaniel Clyne’s assist tally from last season. On top of that he has created six more chances than Clyne’s disappointing two for Liverpool; not half bad for a debut season.

To round it off we have the newly capped Dutch International Virgil Van Dijk who was a shining light in the recent fixture against West Bromwich Albion; with a classy touch, an eye for a pass and a composed defender, he’s a shoe in fit for Toby Alderweireld. Were yet to see a true reflection of Juanmi, Jordy Clasie and Marteen Stekelenburg’s talents, but with the track record that Southampton hold, it would come as no surprise for them to soon flourish under Ronald Koeman.

3) Europe Can Wait

 

After last seasons displays, Southampton fans held every reason to be positive about the European journey that lay ahead.

Sadly however it wasn’t to be, Southampton steered clear of their beautiful fluid football and poorly exchanged it with a Sam Allardyce tactical dream. To fans it became apparent that we had lost our core – thanks to th departure of Schneiderlin – and we needed time for our new faces to settle in. After all, it’s hard to maintain your identity with just two familiar faces in the seven defensive positions.

In a season that will largely be focused on transition and cohesion, European football would simply be an unneeded headache at the cost of League form. For now, the European nights can wait until we are ready to march on.

 

4) Koeman’s Favoritism

It’s slowly becoming more and more evident that Ronald Koeman holds his selected favourites. Whilst I applaud his man management and belief that he installs in his players, you have to worry that it could be at the cost of performance and team morale.

In light of the recent Wanyama transfer saga, James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu proved to form a perfect partnership in his absence. Despite wiping the floor clean with Norwich City and producing the first and only high quality game of the season, it wasn’t enough. Wanyama returned, Romeu was dropped and subsequently James Ward-Prowse was pushed forward into a less familiar position; the result? a share of the spoils in what was to be a 0-0 snoozefest against West Bromwich Albion. Granted, this is a point against a well structured Tony Pulis side that went out with the intent not to lose. However, you just can’t help but wonder what may have been if we stuck with our winning formula. Even more so if the returning player “Isn’t mentally ready” after a blocked transfer away. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, Ron.

5) We Can Still Play That Beautiful Football

Early season form was not only worrying, but ugly in the process. As mentioned before, our football shown against FC Midtjylland on the European stage was nothing to be proud of and a million miles away from the standards we had set last season. Fans were especially worried about the aesthetics of our play when you tie this performance in with the defensively poor showing against Newcastle and Everton. It had seemed we lost our identity; our beautiful and crisp passing that helped to make us everyone’s little soft spot was nowhere to be seen. Whilst fans questioned if that football had made its move to The Theatre Of Dreams, Koeman’s army produced the greatest response to silence the doubters… a dominating three nil masterclass. Southampton proved to be superior in every position against Norwich City in a performance that proudly and rightly belonged at St. Mary’s.

With our number one summer target Virgil Van Dijk still settling in and Clasie joining Bertrand on the way back from injury, play can only improve.

The overlapping runs, quick one touch passing, constant movement and sharp decisions were back, let’s hope they are here to stay.

 

 

Gossip Column: Saints Target Two Toby Replacements and Koeman Rules Out Departures

As we close in on the final week of the transfer window, Southampton have unfinished business. With a defence that fans have been labeling as a shadow of last years success, reinforcements are much needed. So, who may that be? and will Southampton face yet more departures?

Reports Have Jumped The Gun On Southampton’s Interest In Dutch International and Title Winning Centre Half (Sky Sports)

Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk has been at the centre of much transfer speculation this window. So much so that is seems there is a twist in the tale on each new day. In the past 24 hours it had been reported that he would be making the switch to the South Coast this summer.

Contrary to reports however, Celtic released a statement saying…

“The story is absolute nonsense and Virgil will play on Tuesday (Champions League Qualifier Vs Malmo). We have no agreement with any club”.

Koeman has confirmed the club’s interest in the highly rated 24 year old; but with just eight days left in the market and a desperate defence, this transfer is further away than what many had hoped.

Saints Stars Are Staying Put (Southampton FC)

Last seasons surprise package Sadio Mane and the mighty Kenyan Victor Wanyama are set to spend another season at St Mary’s. After Manchester United snubbed Barcelona star Pedro, it was reported that they had turned their interest to Mane – who the red devils valued at £15M. Wanyama has also been thrown into reports of a reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur – the planned bid is reported to be £16M.  

After the 0-0 clash with Watford at Vicarage Road, Ronald Koeman ensured to make it clear that the pair are here to stay. The Dutchman said “Again, I say nobody is for sale.” “They are Southampton players. That goes for everyone. Not just Mane and Victor, everybody.”

Southampton Will Battle With The Canaries For Napoli Defender (Sky Sports)

Southampton have been tracking Kalidou Koulibaly in the event of missing out on their top target, Virgil Van Dijk. Newly promoted Norwich City are heating up the competition for the Frenchman’s signature, with Alex Neil refusing to rule out his interest in the player.

Juan Migel Jimenez Lopez: What Can We Expect?

Juan Miguel Jimenez Lopez is already a capped Spanish International at just the age of 22. Having risen through the ranks at his home club Malaga, the next chapter in the young Spaniard’s career is already underway; its an exciting one to say the least. Thanks to a five million pound transfer, Southampton fans are optimistic of whats to come – La Liga experts are labeling Juanmi a gem.

But what will he bring to Southampton and why did they choose to bring him to St.Mary’s?

The black box. The magical black box. This same system that brought talents to the club such as Fraser Forster, Toby Alderweireld and Sadio Mane is at it again. Juanmi is yet another chosen one from this almighty system, and judging by the track record… its looking positive. With a sprinkle of Koeman’s magic, all of these statistically analysed players contributed to Southampton’s highest ever finish in the Premier league – a Seventh place spot and Europe League qualification. So its safe to say the black box can be trusted, it hasn’t thrown us a dud yet.

So, why Juanmi?

Juanmi is a technically gifted player and just the sight of the ball at his feet is enough to understand why Koeman sees him as an asset for the squad. Importantly for Southampton, he has a silky deft touch when gliding with the ball. One too many times last season Koeman’s men needed that neat touch, close control and innate intuition to unlock the defence. Juanmi is that key to the door.

What better therefore to compliment that Spanish flair than with the bonus of Juanmi’s pace.  His most famous goal to date being the perfect illustration of his blistering speed. That game winning goal against Barcelona last season saw Juanmi pinch the ball, slip past Dani Alves and then accelerate clean through on goal, leaving Jordi Alba for dead. I repeat… Dani Alves and Jordi Alba. Its an enjoyable trait that strikes excitement into fans on the terrace. Not to mention that it’s incredibly useful when facing those ageing old school centre halves legs. “You cant kick em if you cant catch em”, as Mane found out in his debut season.

Once you combine that dangerous duo of class and pace with his slight of frame and low centre of gravity, Juanmi will have no troubles settling into the physicality of the division. All that is stopping him from making an instant impact, is getting an  understanding his role in the side.

To say that Juanmi’s aura is comparable to David Silva’s is not a stretch of the imagination; not yet, but potentially so. He plays with the same jinking style, he will leave defenders in knots as the ball clings to his feet effortlessly . No-one knows what he’s going to do, when he’s going to do it, or how. He has an unpredictability about his play.

Oddly, all of these skills were shown in the Vitesse Arnhem home leg for the third goal of the game. When Shane Long stormed through on goal and Room parried the shot, Juanmi was there. With the ball down and under control he left their keeper scampering across the box and drew the defender off the line. When all in the crowd were convinced he would shoot, the new boy flicked the ball to the back post and left both defenders stranded and helpless – Long was there to head home into an open goal. It was a pass that seemed alien to witness by a player in the red and white stripes; a moment of sheer quality. Juanmi had gained the attention of 30,000 Southampton fans with a single touch of his boot.

Although he’s not been the most prolific of scorers so far in his career, this doesn’t mean he won’t develop a more clinical eye for goal. After all, if there is any club to bring the best out of a player, it’s Southampton.

It’s a player Ronald Koeman said the club simply couldn’t miss. Five million. Spanish international. Quick. Low centre of gravity and a quick thinker with gifted feet. To tie it all together, he can play at any point in the front diamond – cover, is a necessity for every position, given the congested fixtures the club will face (The introduction of Europa League Football).

Although I’m sure he will be blooded into the Premier League slowly, when playing with Pellé , Mane and Tadic opportunites will arise a-plenty.

There is something both Vincete Del Bosque and Ronald Koeman have seen in this young talent; is much more approval needed?

This signing is another one that has gone under the radar and another very astute one from the club.
The black box may have found another gem, but only time will tell.

Transfer Scouting: Wherefore Art Thou Romeu ?

Back in 2011, Oriol Romeu Vidal decided to swap Barcelona for Chelsea at age twenty. This came after featuring as a first team player for Barcelona B and making his first appearance in La Liga. He seemingly had the world at his feet. So why did he leave and where did it go wrong?

Granted, getting into Barcelona’s first team is no picnic. With the emergence of Busquets, plus Inesita and Xavi as competition, this is as hard as a fight can possibly get. Understandably, a fight he clearly didn’t fancy.

This world class competition soon helped to pave way the way for a move to Premier League giants, Chelsea. A club with bags of money, Premier League titles and… a worrying reputation in developing young talents for their own use.

Its a well known fact that Chelsea are not the greatest at inter-grating young talents into the first team, whether that be through the academy or as transfer. Josh Mceachran, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah just to name a few in recent years. This is something that Romeu clearly wasn’t advised on. So what would have happened if he’d stayed at Barca?

We know he was highly thought of at the Catalan giants. Although he moved on to Chelsea, Barcelona still ensured to put in place a five million transfer fee and first refusal buy back clauses. Ten million if they bought him back in 2012, or 15 million if they brought him back in 2013. Why would you put in place buy back clauses if you couldn’t see something special?

Not to mention that he had already played his first game for the club before HE decided to move on. He was not forced out of the club, if anything, they wanted to keep him.

Had Romeu stayed injury free and continued in the same vain as his first season at Chelsea, Barcelona would have acted on the buy back clause. This would have been nothing out of the ordinary- Fabregas, Alba and Pique are three perfect examples of what could have happened. It goes without saying that Barcelona hold an incredible number of talents. As a result, they have allowed players to make their name elsewhere, only to bring them back home. This may well have been the master plan for Romeu.

He started brightly at Chelsea, going on to make 24 appearances in the number six shirt. This featured a number of bench appearance’s but as the season went on, Chelsea fans saw more and more of the Spaniard. He was becoming a fan favourite. Good on the ball, the eye for a pass and able to carry out his defensive duties; he was the complete midfielder. The prospect of Romeu partnered with Frank Lampard was an exciting one. At twenty years old, Romeu was making an impression, you could tell he was schooled at La Masia. He had that air about him, he always had time on the ball. He was calm, playing for Chelsea didn’t seem to phase him.

He even featured in the build up to Chelsea’s famous 2012 Champions League win against Bayern Munich, under manager Roberto Di Matteo. Romeu was seemingly unfazed by the competition at all times, making 3 appearances.Throughout his Chelsea career he won the Champions League, the Europa League (Chelsea’s only European triumphs to date) and the FA Cup. That experience will prove vital during Southampton’s European involvements this season. This is experience that only Romeu’s ex team mate Ryan Bertrand shares.

His impression at the club was growing and in 2012, Roberto Di Matteo stated that Yossi Benayoun, Michael Essien and Raul Meireles would all be leaving the club – resulting in more opportunities for the young Spaniard. Then it all came crashing down, on the 11th of December he suffered a knee injury against Sunderland, an injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season. That is arguably the injury that changed it all.

With such an injury at a club like Chelsea, its almost the beginning of the end. On return from his injury set back, Romeu was sent home to Valencia. The La Liga club are one with ambition and a pedigree as one of the best teams in Spain, it was a smart move for both clubs and the player.  During his time at the club he made 18 appearances as the club finished 8th. A solid season. He did however pick up a training ground injury to his knee that kept him out for a month. But it happened the once, and hasn’t happened since.

After returning from his loan spell he went ahead to sign a new contract until 2017 at Chelsea (another indicator of his obvious talent) and went out on loan (again) to Stuttgart. He played 27 times for the club in a season of turmoil, narrowly missing relegation by the skin of their teeth. One point to be exact. But, he was an ever-present shining light, doing the best job possible in a side that lacked players with the quality or desire to compete.

So, here we are. He’s joined Southampton having just today made his first Premier League appearance for over two years. With a midfield void that needs to be filled and Romeu having a point to prove, this could be the move to get his career back on track. Rather the same way that Southampton helped to guide Ryan Bertrand back into the England set up.

To put it simply, this looks to be a very smart signing. To secure a talented 23 year old in a much needed position can be considered brilliant business, especially given Southampton’s ability to squeeze every drop of talent to the surface. Even more so for just five million pounds.

Fans along the south coast will be hopeful that it is yet another piece of genius pulled from the black box.

Those who have witnessed Romeu play will be very aware of the positions he likes to take up on the field, therefore knowing that he can fill in for the now departed Morgan Schneiderlin. With Romeu’s addition, Southampton can once again revert to playing two centre defensive midfielder’s, in front of the back four; this successful system has become second nature for Southampton and helps to add protection for the back line. Whenever Southampton move away from this defensive partnership, the chances of picking up all three points quickly fade away. This may well be a shoe in fit for Romeu.

Finally, working under Barcelona legend Ronald Koeman shall be that of an honour to the La Masia academy starlet.

Oriol Romeu Vidal, your career is in safe hands. Welcome to Southampton.

Talking Point: What If A Southampton Villain Returned?

With Toby Alderweireld’s departure and injury to Florin Gardos, Southampton’s defence has been reduced to it’s bare bones, which has coincided with tabloid comments about a certain villain who once played at St Mary’s.

Last season Southampton boasted the second best defence in the league – conceding just 33 goals all season – an achievement that Ronald Koeman and Southampton fans have taken great pride in holding. Sadly however, with the current players that are at the Dutchman’s disposal, it would prove an incredible task to repeat. So much so, that Koeman himself has told the media how the defence is “Too small with Maya and Jose” and that another two centre halfs are required.

Meanwhile some 6,278 miles away from Stadium De Kuip, there has been yet another horror show for Liverpool outcast Dejan Lovren.

How much of a horror show I hear you ask? Being left for dust by a binman named Patrick Ronaldinho to be exact. Fans of the Merseyside club can be heard begging Southampton to take back the Croatian they now label as a “fraud”.

On the surface this looks to be an interesting talking point for any football fan; Southampton need a centre half and Liverpool want shot of Lovren for the right price. That same Lovren who Southampton fans hailed and supported as one of the finest defenders in the league.

So, what if Southampton were to take him back? Would we?

Dejan Lovren’s £20M transfer during the 2014 summer exodus was one that brought a number of emotions to Southampton fans. Anger was the overriding feeling due to the way the Croatian International conducted his transfer; Lovren not only refused to train in order to force his “dream” move but he also made a number of snide remarks about the club. Stating “don’t let small minds ruin big dreams” in reference to the board and even worse, telling fans “My mind is already at Liverpool” whilst under contract at Southampton.

With the current positive feeling and togetherness that has been moulded into the club, bringing in such a hated player will only leave a sour taste in the mouth of fans.

Then came the inability for Southampton fans to hide their spite. That came about purely because we had lost what we believed to be an irreplaceable defender, the man who would end the inconceivable task of fixing Liverpool’s defence.

Oh how times change.  The transfer turned out to be the opposite of what the pundits and fans had predicted. Lovren had built up a formidable partnership with Jose Fonte and yet a year later he still has to make is mark on the Liverpool team, increasingly finding himself on the bench and being pulled off early for poor performances. His time at Liverpool appears to be rather different to what he had imagined, In a recent interview Lovren even seemed to be reminiscing of his time at his previous club, saying  “At Southampton it was different. There was a good atmosphere and I was happy. If I am not playing well, I cannot be happy. I didn’t pretend.”

It’s been fairly evident to Southampton fans as to what has been at the root of the lowering in the standard of Lovren’s performances since arriving at Anfield. During his time at Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino placed strict demanding philosophies on defensive play and ensured clear instructions were made to Lovren. Under Brendan Rodgers however, it has been argued by many that he has shown naivety in recent years over defensive play and many would argue that no single defender has flourished whilst under his management. With this in mind, footballing wise, a return to st Mary’s may not be a bad move – In fact it would be a strong signing, even more so with Ronald Koeman’s management; the Dutchman would not only share his expertise in defence, but also give Lovren the arm around the shoulder that he once had and so desires.

However I strongly emphasize that the transfer would only prove beneficial in a theoretical sense, this is because of a new found weakness in his game… confidence.

Whilst playing for Liverpool it has become known that Lovren crumbled under the new found pressure of being the club’s most expensive centre half ever. With such a large price tag, comes large expectations and Liverpool fans were willing to offer no support when the Croatian failed to hit the ground running. This proved to form a vicious cycle of unhappy fans leading to a fragile Lovren, resulting only in failure. You can therefore only imagine and worry how poorly he would respond to abuse from Southampton fans, if he were to rejoin the Saints with shattered confidence.

In summary IF Lovren does regret the move, IF he wants a fresh start, IF an acceptable deal for all parties can be struck, IF he were to be offered a clean slate, we MIGHT all benefit and the brilliant centre half that saints fans were so sad to lose MIGHT be seen again. Quite frankly there are too many IF’s and MIGHTs  to lead to any other conclusion other than we are halfway through the transfer window and there are newspaper columns to fill and mischief to be had.

Transfer News: Southampton Look To Secure Djuricic For The Season Ahead

This morning it was reported by Portuguese sources that Filip Djuricic – who joined Southampton on loan in January – is being targeted once more by Ronald Koeman, to bolster his attack.

The Serbian spent the remainder of the season at the South coast club, going on to make nine appearances during his short spell with the first team. Djuricic escaped from a season long loan at Bundesliga side Mainz, in order to join up with Eredivisie expert Ronald Koeman; the move was considered by many, as a bid to rebuild his career.

Djuricic entered the Southampton side whilst they were flying high, sitting in a 4th place Champions league spot. This resulted in a challenging start for Djuricic, as he faced stiff competition and needed time to settle, in order to show his qualities.

However, quality prevails and in the closing games of the season, his incredible technical ability soon become apparent. He went on to feature in all of the final 4 games, threading a number of killer passes, dropping defenders to the floor and showing his knack of finding space in the tightest of games. The most notable showing of his talent came in the 6-1 annihilation of Aston Villa; Djuricic picked up the ball on the halfway line with a classy 180 degree turn, he then exchanged a 1-2 with Mane. He then produced a “no look pass” behind his standing left foot and the onlooking Ron Vlaar. The Senegalese winger then whipped the ball in to assist Pelle.

Yet that is all that remains of his time at Southampton. A short winded career in the red and white shirt, that has left many Southampton fans certain that there was more to come from the Serbian.

In the short bursts that we have seen of Djuricic at St Mary’s and from his time at Heerenveen, it is evident that he is a player that Southampton fans have screamed out for in recent years. Yet, some other fans just can’t see it. In those agonising games where that final ball is just an inch wide and that classy touch is so needed, many feel that Djuricic can be the answer. He brings a spark to the pitch that can change a game and is another outlet for the team to attack through. By no means will he start each match, but given a good pre-season, he will be able to provide that difference in the games that need the best of players.

Like all players, he has his issues, with inconsistency has shown to be a trait of the Serbian International. This is due to his slight frame and need of regular service to his feet, which results in anonymous performances during games where Southampton struggle for possession.

Despite this, he is a player that would prove to be valuable in quality, coming off the bench and to spur on competition. If Southampton wish to take the next step on their journey, then integrating players of Djuricic’s class into the squad is necessary.

The buyout clause in his contract with Benfica is said to be in the region of nine million pounds. Taking his performances and game time to this point into consideration, it’s become clear that Southampton are not keen to meet this buyout. Yet that doesn’t mean Southampton cant bid less. A player who has started for Benfica just 5 times since signing in July 2013, can not warrant that price tag and the board at Benfica will almost certainly know that. For that very reason it may be worth testing the Portuguese clubs resilience with a lower bid.

A bid in the region of five million could turn a few heads at Benfica, as it’s clear he’s not a first team option. He hasn’t performed to the standard expected of him since playing in the Eredivisie and he’s bulking up their payroll with a  value may only drop from here with limited game time.

As for the player himself, he would be joining a club that he is familiar with. He would have the opportunity to feature more for Southampton than Benfica (especially with the inclusion of Europa League football) and at the age of 23 he must now look to push on in his career.

Combine all of this with the temptation of working under Ronald Koeman – who has become famed for his ability to bring out the best in players – and this looks to be a logical move for all three parties.

Transfer Views: Who Could Be Alderweireld’s successor?

Yesterday morning it was confirmed that Toby Alderweireld will not return to St Mary’s next season. Instead he’ll form a partnership with fellow Belgian International, Jan Vertonghen at Tottenham Hotspur. Southampton fans have become accustomed to such heartache over recent transfer windows and this was one of the more complicated examples. Now with this saga over, fans will be looking at who can fill the boots that Toby left behind.

Aleksandar Dragovic could be considered a like-for-like replacement. At just twenty three years old he has proved himself to be an incredibly smart, strong and tactically aware centre half. He has built a reputation as a tough tackling defender with technical ability in abundance. Any who have watched Dynamo Kiev, will be aware that they play a fast paced brand of football, Dragovic plays a key role in that link up between defence and attack.

Such a role can be physically demanding on a player, even more so in the Premier League. Dragovic has natural stamina and an ability to dig deep in the dying moments, lazy last minute lunges and tired legs are not a feature in his game.

It is reported that West Ham placed a £12M bid earlier this summer that was instantly rejected; they were then given a quote of £20M to acquire Dragovic’s services. However, fans should not be disheartened. As the the Hammers are known to have substantial financial backing, Kiev are no doubt looking to relieve them of a large element of those funds.

£15M should be enough to prise the Austrian away from Dynamo Kyiv.

A second option comes in the form of a man mountain, Omer Toprak. The Turkish International currently plays for Bayer Leverkusen and has built  a reputation as one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent defenders. His most notable strengths are his concentration in defence and presence at the back.

Any Southampton fan will tell you that if you wish to play under Ronald Koeman as a centre half, technical ability will be required; A great feature of Toprak’s play is comfortably bring the ball down and looking to recycle play along the floor, yet another reason why he is perfect for the spot.

Whilt most strong centre halfs lack natural pace, Toprak is an exception. This pace will avoid him being targeted early on and help him adapt to the Premier League’s fast style of play.

The 25 year old is said to be valued at £12M by Leverkusen, a bid of up to £15M could take him to St Mary’s and prove a wise investment.

The final option is Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk. This is a player that many Southampton fans will be familiar with, having been linked to the Dutchman in previous windows. Standing at six foot four inches tall, he is a dominating and strong figure in defence, with world class distribution of the ball. These diagonal long passes have become a noted aspect in his play, as have his surging runs from deep to join the attack.

Those from Celtic Park are not the only fans who have enjoyed his style of play and performances either. Dutch fans have made it very clear they believe he should start for the first team, especially ahead of a now ageing and error prone Ron Vlaar.

Van Dijk has come to the end of his second season at Celtic earning his plaudits along the way; at 24 years old he will surely be open about taking the next step in his career, as will Celtic provided they receive a bid of over £10M.

There is no hiding the difficult task in replacing Toby Alderweireld. To find a player of his quality would prove to be a challenging task and ultimately an incredible signing. However, no matter who the signing may be, Southampton fans should feel comfortable, knowing that one of the classiest centre halves to every play the game is at the reigns of the club.

If anyone were to know who to sign, Its Ronald Koeman.

 

Gossip: Alderweireld Still On, Porto Win Race For Imbula and Two Saints Set To Leave

Welcome to this weeks gossip column! Whilst Southampton’s start to the summer transfer window may not be as manic as the last, there is still top transfer news coming both in and out. Southampton have already secured the signatures of full back Cedric, forward Juanmi and the experienced  goalkeeper Steckelenburg; Who will be next to join Ronald Koeman’s red and white army?

Southampton Face Stiff Competition For Alderweireld (Express)

Many Southampton fans have hailed Toby Alderweireld as the greatest centre half to play at St Mary’s, but they will face great competition from a host of big clubs for his services. Tottenham Hotspur and Alderweireld’s current club Atletico Madrid being the main competition.

In an interview with Southampton, Koeman stated “The player likes to stay, we like to keep the player, but it’s a little difficult… I have good hope he will stay”.

This makes great reading for Southampton fans after it’s been reported the club are preparing an £18M bid, a Southampton record fee. Southampton initially held an agreed £6.3M fee for the defender but Atletico deemed him greater than that price tag, forcing them to remove the clause at a cost of £1.5M.

However, the situation continues to grow more complicated for fans on the South coast. It was revealed early Tuesday morning that Atletico’s Miranda is set for a move to Inter Milan, making Simeone all the more eager to hold onto his Belgian star.

Through all the complications and competition I am still oddly confident in Southampton securing Alderweireld, especially with a clause that forces any other club to bid £3M more than Southampton’s efforts. It would be an incredible achievement to obtain a player of such class for next seasons campaign.

Schneiderlin Replacement Set For Porto (ForzaItalianFootball)

Southampton target Imbula looks set for a €25M deal with Porto, according to L’Equipe. The frenchman is yet to make an appearance for the French senior side but has drawn comparisons to Patrick Vieira in his time at Marseille.

With 6 departures from Marseille’s first team this summer, Imbula will be eager to force this move away from the French side.

The 22 year old was considered to be the replacement for Morgan Schneidelrin, who looks set for a move to Manchester United, but attention will have to be placed elsewhere.

Clyne Is Liverpool Bound (Mirror)

Nathaniel Clyne’s imminent move to Liverpool looks all the more likely after the England International did not report back for training on monday. Reports and sightings then revealed that Clyne was undergoing his medical to become Brendan Rodgers sixth summer signing, in a deal worth £12.5M. Clyne’s transfer will pin him down on a 5 year contract at Anfield to tighten up the so often criticised Liverpool back line. Southampton have wasted no time in searching for a replacement, signing Portuguese international Cedric Soares for just £3.5M. The sporting Lisbon right back signed a four year deal on the 18th June, well in advance of Clyne’s departure.

No “Serious Bid” From Manchester United For Schneidelrin (ManchesterEveningNews)

Morgan Schneiderlin returned to Staplewood for the start of pre season with Southampton on Monday, amidst a move to Manchester United. Ronald Koeman spoke of Schneiderlin’s proposed move to Old Trafford saying “We have the situation with Morgan Schneiderlin, we will have to wait what will happen…Until now, we’ve not had a serious bid for him from Man United.”. Sky Sports reported that 10 days ago Manchester United bid for Schneiderlin, the bid was beneath the £25m expected and it was rejected. This is the transfer all Southampton fans have been dreading for quite some time, even if the club receive the £25M expected it would be some task finding a player of the same quality. The Frenchman has been the spine of our squad and unless a miracle were to happen, it seems we have seen the last of Schneiderlin.

 

Transfer Scouting: Jordy Clasie

Reports are surfacing once more regarding the transfer of Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie to Southampton in a £10m deal – So we spoke to Feyenoord season ticket holder and editor in chief of Feyenoordpings.nl., Thomas.

The Dutch central midfielder produced yet more inspiring performances in a Feyenoord side that were quite the opposite. A fourth place finish in the 2014-15 Eredivisie season was one for fans in Rotterdam to forget.

For as long as Koeman is as the reigns of the club, it seems that this potential reunion is here to stay. Even more so with the inevitable departure of Schneiderlin from Southampton.

To find out more about our potential future Saint, I spoke with Thomas who is a Feyenoord season ticket holder and editor in chief from Feyenoordpings.nl.

1) Many Southampton fans will be unfamiliar about Clasie, what are his greatest strengths and what role does he play?

– His passing and defensive work stands out best. He doesn’t need the time to think where his next pass will go, he already knows where to play it. Therefore his nickname has become ‘The Dutch Xavi’. On the rare occasion he does lose possession, he will fight and do everything to get it back. His role at Feyenoord is to dominate the midfield,  this involves the defence looking to instantly play the ball into Clasie. The Dutch international will then look to push further up the pitch and get the team into an attacking position. However, this has also damaged his personal records. As he is so key in the centre of midfield (Like Xavi) he has just scored just 2 goals last season in 31 matches. That’s not enough.

2) What does the recent incoming of Vejinovic mean for Clasie?

– It means Feyenoord could be open to a move for Clasie. The new boss, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, admitted that if Clasie leaves, his successor is already in the club with Vejinovic. Although, they can play together as well as a partnership. The two differ in their play styles as Vejinovic is more offensive.

3) Will the under achieving season under now sacked Fred Rutten push Clasie for a move?

– Yes it could, Feyenoord haven’t qualified for European football next season so many fans would understand if the captain wished to move. However, Clasie should look to his friends Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum… They stayed for one more season at PSV to help the club win the Eredivisie title. As a result, Depay has left for Manchester United and Wijnaldum will also find himself a good club. This could therefore be a motive for Clasie to stay at Feyenoord. The club are certainly aiming for this after gaining the services of former Liverpool man Dirk Kuyt for the upcoming season.

4) Clasie has made 12 appearances for the Dutch national side, how has he performed at International level?

– In the Dutch squad he has a lot of competition in the midfield. Former Holland coach Louis van Gaal liked him, but Guus Hiddink did not look impressed by the Feyenoord captain. Hiddink (sacked by the Dutch FA on monday) had his midfield positions clear: Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum. Only in the final games did Hiddink look to change the squad, but Clasie withdrew himself due to illness.

5) What can you tell us about the relationship between Clasie and Koeman?

– This is a very good one. Before Koeman’s arrival in 2011 at Feyenoord, Clasie spent a year on loan at Excelsior. When Koeman arrived at Feyenoord, he got Clasie back in the squad. Straight from the beginning he believed in Clasie’s ability, despite his lack of strength. Since the arrival of Koeman, Clasie went on to play every match. You could say that Koeman ‘made him’. When Pellè and Koeman left for Southampton, Clasie was made the new captain of the team.

6) Reports have suggested Southampton wish to bid £10M for the Dutchman, is that worthy of his ability?

– After the summer transfer window last year Clasie extended his contract until 2018. A little bit earlier in that summer, his contract was expiring in 2016 and FC Porto really wanted him. However, they didn’t want to meet Feyenoord’s asking price of €10m (around £7,12m). Now he has extended his contract, Feyenoord will ask for more. Whether he’s worth it? Thats difficult to say. Koeman worked with him for three years, he would know Clasie’s true worth. I expect Southampton will try to pick him up for less than what Feyenoord want, Dutch reports say Feyenoord are looking for €18m (around £12,82m). I personally don’t see any club paying that. £10m will be a decent price.

7) Finally, how do you believe Clasie would cope with a move to the Premier League and more specifically, Southampton?

– That’s a good question. He will not easily fill the reported space of Schneiderlin simply because he is a different type of player. For Southampton I have no doubt he would be a good signing. Despite his short height (1,69 m), he can adapt to the speed of the English game. In addition, he’s just 24 years old so could be ready to take the next step up at Southampton if they push for European football success and repeat the ranking in the league like last season.

 

Many thanks from FreshSaints to Thomas for making this piece possible.