The 2017 summer transfer window has had all the drama and rumours of recent seasons, except there’s just one little difference; no key departures.
So, with that being said, there’s only one place to start as I begin my review of Southampton’s summer transfer window.
There’s been social media stalking, airplane tracking, and even hunts for a certain Mercedes people carrier, but with August now behind us, the future of Virgil Van Dijk has finally been decided.
The Dutchman will remain on the South Coast until at least the January transfer window, after not a single bid was filed for the center back throughout the entire summer.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Juventus and even Barcelona reportedly held an interest in Van Dijk, but with thanks to Les Reed and co, the club have been able to retain their finest asset.
Being able to have a player of Van Dijk’s quality in the side is obviously a huge boost for the club, but most importantly, we’ve now set a precedent for future transfer windows. The pressure that the club have been under with Van Dijk has been like no other saga before, so to stand strong against the players wishes will send a message to any players in the future who wish to follow in Virgil’s footsteps.
Van Dijk now has to get his head down, apologise and give his all to Southampton Football Club. If he decides not to do this and therefore not play, then he misses the opportunity to play for his country in the World Cup (if Holland even qualify, of course).
Regardless of if they do however, he will still wish to be firing on all cylinders when the time of his inevitable transfer does come around. He simply has no other choice but to find any last professionalism he has left in him, and right his wrongs of the summer.
From here Van Dijk can get back to showing his incredible talent on the field, Southampton get an extra years service from a world class defender, and he gets his dream move at the end of it all. Everyone’s a winner.
Jan Bednarek – signed from Lech Poznan for a reported £5M, the Polish U21 International appears to be one for the future. With Hoedt, Van Dijk, Stephens and Yoshida above him in the pecking order, it looks likely that the 21-year-old will spend his first season at the club working with the U23’s. I’ve seen little so far to leave me excited about this signing, but developing players is what Southampton do best, so give this one some time.
Mario Lemina – pinched from Juventus for a club record fee of £18.1M, this is yet another example of Southampton’s latest transfer strategy; snatching the fringe players from Europe’s elite. Lemina is an athletic, powerful, box to box midfielder, who boasts the defensive mindset to help Oriol in the middle of the park. Early showings suggest that he will be used as Southampton’s midfield outlet for turning defence into attack. He adds much needed energy into a Southampton midfield that was previously lacking legs.
Wesley Hoedt – The arrival of Hoedt for £15M is one that truly met the needs of the fans. Whilst Yoshida has stepped up massively and Stephens is an incredible prospect, the two have their weaknesses as a partnership; they are prone to being dragged out of position, have often crumbled under pressure and are painfully weak in the air. With the addition of Hoedt however, these issues have certainly been addressed (particularly the latter). 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%. Standing at 6ft 4 it would be easy to label him as this battering ram of a defender, but in truth, he’s built up quite the reputation as a ball playing center back (watch out for some delightful 40-yard diagonals with his left foot). It’s brilliant to see that this signing is an addition to the squad, rather than a replacement.
Jay Rodriguez – Jay had a wonderful five years at the club and left us fans with nothing but good memories, but this transfer was best for all parties involved. The club had moved on and no longer saw a space for him in the side, whilst Rodriguez needed a new challenge to rediscover his love for the game – with that considered, accepting a £12 fee from West Brom is just common sense. Rodriguez is (was) a fantastic system based player, so given how organised a Tony Pulis side tends to be, this move could certainly work out. Back when Rodriguez was working under Pochettino, he would persistently make runs from the wide left into the edge of the box; this is a typical feature of a Pulis wide man, so I wouldn’t mind betting he can notch a fair few this season. All the best Jay, just don’t go scoring against us.
Jordy Clasie – once linked with a move to Manchester United to work under Louis Van Gaal, it’s fair to say that this transfer never quite worked out, and it’s all rather sad really. Having dropped behind Lemina, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Davis and even Hojbjerg in the pecking order, Clasie’s loan move to Club Brugge was needed simply for the players own development. He never really put a foot wrong when he stepped out onto the pitch, but at the same time, it never really clicked either. Whether it was the Premier League’s physicality, pace, or maybe just a lack of trust from managers, I know that Southampton fans will now be sure to keep a close eye on the Belgian First Division title race…
This brings about an end to my review for the summer transfer window, but I’ve got to admit, I find myself a tad frustrated that I’m not writing about an addition to our front line – we’ve been crying out for a goal-scoring winger for over 12 months now.
All too often Southampton have worked so effectively in the first two-thirds of the pitch, only to lack that final touch of quality when it really matters. I can’t help but feel this is one hell of a gamble to take, and for that, I can’t particularly label this window a true success. We could easily be left looking red faced two months down the line when we continue to lack that missing piece in attack.
From here on I can only pray that with the fine management of Mauricio Pellegrino, we can put an end to our misery in front of goal, and return to our fluid and free-scoring ways.
Les Reed himself stated at the end of the season that this summer would be a quiet one – in terms of both ins and outs – so for that Les, I take my hat off to you. He’d have been the first and main figure to take criticism and abuse if he wasn’t true to his word word, so when a job is well done, credit is certainly due.