Transfers

Jay Rodriguez and Southampton: The end of the road

After five years wearing red and white, it’s now been confirmed that Jay Rodriguez will be making the switch to West Bromwich Albion, in a deal worth £12M.

The transfer itself comes as a surprise to very few Southampton fans, who over the past 24 months have watched Rodriguez fight to rediscover his 2013-14 season form.

But despite failing to do so, this is a departure that’s been been left on wonderful terms, with each and every Southampton fan wishing nothing but the best for Jay, and rightly so too…

Rodriguez signed for the Saints in the summer of 2012 for a fee of £7M, as Nigel Adkins’ Southampton prepared for their return to the top flight.

With the pressure of fighting for survival, Rodriguez managed to show glimpses of his physical edge and positive movement, only for his unrefined technique and nerves in front of goal to let him down. The talent was there for all to see, but this diamond desperately needed polishing, having recorded just six League goals from 35 appearances.

But with the departure of Adkins – the man who placed his faith in Jay – there came the arrival of a certain Mauricio Pochettino, and this was the moment that we began to see the very best of Jay Rodriguez.

With a full pre-season under the Argentinian, Rodriguez had been endlessly drilled, physically pushed and given a vital responsibility in the way that Pochettino wanted his side to play.

The skinny forward that only 12 months ago would be bullied to the ground in aerial duels, was now leaping high-above 6ft 4in centre-halves as he sinks the ball into the back of the net. And that same player who would once crumble as he bares down on goal with just the keeper to beat, was now cooly slotting the ball home without a moment’s hesitation.

Operating as an inside forward from the left, Rodriguez was wreaking havoc upon the Premier League’s strongest defences, linking up effortlessly with Rickie Lambert through the middle, and showing the intelligence to stretch defences in wide areas.

With 15 League goals in just 33 appearances, Rodriguez was showing no sign of slowing down as the end of the season edged nearer. Having already made his England debut in mid November of that season, there was huge talk of Rodriguez being the wildcard selection in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.

He was in the finest form of his career so far, but then it all came crashing down…

On the 5th of April 2014 against Manchester City, Rodriguez leapt to control a high ball in the air, only to writhe in pain as his feet touched back down on the ground.

The Etihad filled with a painful silence, as the Southampton players rushed to surround Rodriguez in shock of what they had just witnessed. They knew it was bad news from the moment he touched the ground, and the stretcher on the field just moments later only confirmed that.

News broke instantly amongst us Southampton fans, who were feeling every bit of Rodriguez’s pain. Our club had only been back in the top flight for a single season, and here we had a player who was helping to put us back on the football map, all whilst dreaming of representing his country on the biggest stage that football can offer.

I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t emotional watching his childhood dream be crushed before our very eyes.

Rodriguez had suffered a rupture to his anterior cruciate ligament, and was told that he would face the next 11 months on the sidelines. His World Cup dreams were well and truly over.

Rodriguez was about to endure the biggest challenge of his career to date, both physically and mentally. He would go on to face setback after setback, scare after scare, and even for a short time, have doubts over whether he would ever play the game again.

But after sixteen brutal, agonising months, having missed the entirety of the 2014/15 campaign, Rodriguez was once again ready to step back out onto St Mary’s.

It was chilling to watch him re-enter the field as a Saint, knowing full well just how deep and cruelly his strength had been tested over the last 16 months.

And whilst over the past two years Rodriguez has been a shadow of his 2013/14 self, it’s made me realise that there is far more to football than just results and goals. For all the players that come and go from St Mary’s, here we have a player who was giving his all just to one day wear those red and white stripes again.

Even after all that time on the sidelines waiting, Rodriguez still maintained a focused and determined attitude when both Ronald Koeman and Claude Puel starved him of game time; no running to the press, no moaning and certainly no drama. Jay’s only focus was getting back out onto that pitch, to repay the Southampton fans for their endless support through his recovery.

Over the past 24 months, Rodriguez has tried time and time again to once again make an attacking role his own, but sadly, his efforts came to no avail. Without the physicality to play as a lone number nine, the pace to play as a winger, or the technical ability to play just off the forward, Rodriguez has often been consigned to the bench.

But by no means am I suggesting that he’s no longer capable of being an effective Premier League footballer. For a while now, he’s been missing a number of vital components that help to aid development; a manager that trusts him, a single role in the side and a consistent run of games. At West Bromwich Albion it appears that Tony Pulis has promised him exactly that.

For the wonderful memories, professionalism throughout, and his pride in being a Saint, I would love nothing more than to see Rodriguez back amongst the goals; just not against us, alright Jay?

Player profile: Jan Bednarek

It’s now been confirmed that Southampton Football Club have made their first acquisition of the summer, with the purchase of Lech Poznan’s Jan Bednarek. 

The 21-year-old joins the club on a five-year-deal, for a fee that’s believed to be in the region of €6m, rising to €8M. But rather than sitting here and rambling away as if I know about our latest signing, I spoke to a man who does; Christopher Lash.

First and foremost, what can we look forward to in Bednarek? 

Well, he’s probably the best young defender in his position in Poland.  He’s relatively quick, decent on the ball, pretty good in the air, quite strong, and in general a pretty aware central defender. He only really broke through into the Lech first team this season, and he became a key defensive player as the club rose up the league after a poor start.

Are there any defenders that you would compare him to? 

He’s better on the ball than your average central defender, so in that respects you could compare him more to the John Stones/Rio Ferdinand model. But he’s also good in the air and strong, so he has the kind of capabilities required for more typical central defensive work as well.

What weaknesses has he shown? 

Lots, unfortunately. He’s been a key defender in the Polish league for Lech this season, making a lot of pundits’ team of the year and it’s clear that he has a lot of potential, but there are a lot of areas in which he needs to improve. His anticipation can go missing at key times in games and his positional play is a bit haphazard.  For a big guy, he can sometimes be bullied off the ball by opposing strikers. All of this can be coached out of him and he’s only 21, so Southampton are buying mostly based on what he could turn into, rather than what he is now. But don’t be surprised to see him make quite a large number of mistakes if he’s thrown into the deep end.

How has Bednarek performed at International level? 

He’s not made his debut for the full international side yet, although there have been strong rumours that he will make the Poland squad in the autumn as the Polish team moves inexorably towards the World Cup Finals in Russia.  He has played a lot at youth levels though and was a key member of the u-21 side in the recent European championships hosted in Poland.  He didn’t have a particularly good tournament (but then neither did the rest of Poland’s squad), getting sent off in one match and making a number of mistakes that led to goals (the non-squeamish can look up his mistake which led to Slovakia’s winning goal in Poland’s opening match).  The most important thing is Poland’s NT coach Adam Nawałka firmly has his eye on him and he should have a fine international career.

Has he had to face any challenges or great pressure in his short career so far?

Well I’d say he’s done very well to win a starting place in Lech’s first team after not being considered a key player even last summer, so that’s definitely a challenge he’s overcome.  The recent u-21 championships were a big challenge for him, but one that he didn’t really pass with flying colours. All good experience though.

What do you make of the reported €6M fee rising to €8M?

It’s a massive fee to be honest and will break the transfer record for a player transferred out of the Polish league.  In that respect there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him, especially from the Polish media who will be checking on his progress pretty intensely.  I’d say in some ways the media hype of the move from the Polish side might be just as difficult as the jump in class that he’s going to experience in the English league.  I suppose we’ll see if he has a mature head on his shoulders because he’s going to need to be level-headed to succeed with all the pressure he will be under.

Finally, what do you think of Southampton as a destination for Bednarek’s development?

Hopefully it will be a perfect match.  As you know Southampton are renowned for being a club that brings through young talent and so, in that respect, Bednarek couldn’t be headed to a better club.  The big worry in Poland is that Bednarek will go the way of Kapustka who couldn’t break through whatsoever at Leicester and looked a shadow of his former self at the U-21 championships recently. I wouldn’t expect Bednarek break through straightaway but hopefully Southampton will be able to provide him with the know-how and coaching to advance the level of his play appropriately.

Cedric Soares targeted by Allegri’s Juventus

Coming off the back of Euro’s glory and a fine Premier League campaign, it’s no surprise to Southampton fans that Cedric Soares has already been linked with a number of European giants.

The latest reports have suggested that Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus are interested in the Portuguese International, with Dani Alves’s transfer to Manchester City looking all the more likely.

FC Barcelona were also believed to be monitoring Cedric earlier in the season, as their hunt for an attack-minded and natural full back goes on.

But this fine run of form for Cedric over the past 12 months doesn’t tell the full tale of his time on the south coast, and in my eyes, that is exactly why our board can’t allow such a transfer to formulate this summer.

Not too long ago under the reign of Ronald Koeman, there was a time when Cedric looked unable to adapt to the Premier League’s physical demands, and would find the opposite corner flag more often than Pelle’s head. There was clear talent inside the former Sporting fullback, but he needed to be nurtured and protected inside the team’s system in order to flourish.

So much so was the need for improvement that Koeman finished the 2015/16 season placing more trust in Cuco Martina, often consigning Cedric to the bench.

If we allow a single impressive season to be the benchmark for warranting a move away, then our transfer strategy is beyond flawed. I’m sure that the Southampton board hold the same stance, but it’s something that we shouldn’t even consider entertaining. It would show weakness to not only our fans and current crop of players, but also other teams that may wish to test our resolve with a bid.

Not to mention that at this moment in time, it’s looking increasingly likely that either one of Virgil Van Dijk or Ryan Bertrand will depart this summer. Losing two of our current backline in one single window would be one hell of a task for our recruitment department, and a cruel welcoming for Mauricio Pellegrino.

Don’t go forgetting that we’re still holding out for our Jose Fonte replacement too…

Finally however, there comes the hurdle of the reported fee that would be enough to prise Cedric away from our grips. £15M. Yes, you read that correctly.

£15M is the figure being thrown around by numerous sources, and quite frankly, I don’t believe that our board would pay even the slightest bit of attention to this offer. As many will know, Southampton operate a transfer strategy of buying low and selling high, but to accept such a bid would only complete the first half of the cycle.

When you consider the current rate at which Cedric has been developing and the fact that his contract runs until the summer of 2020, it would simply be mindless to consider a bid any time before the end of next season. 

Dusan Tadic: Should he stay or should he go?

According to reports at The Times, Dusan Tadic is believed to be a target for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool this summer.

This conveniently concocted transfer rumour isn’t what prompted me to start typing away however; Instead, it was the reaction to this news from many Southampton fans…  

This Premier League season has been a write off, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. The football has been dire for the most part, Claude Puel looks as if he will face the sack, and a number of players are certainly guilty of not matching expectations – perhaps none more so than Dusan Tadic.

With the way things are in the modern game, this has naturally caused a number of supporters to switch on the former fan favourite, claiming that they are open to let the Serb move on this window.

Whilst each fan is of course entitled to their own opinion, it baffles me that someone can talk about discarding a player with such clear and previously proven talent. Certain comments would have you fooled that the playmaker is rotting away as dead wood in our squad, when in truth, it’s simply been his first troubled season at the club.

Granted, a player of his talent should be doing far more in the final third, but does that mean we should give up on him just yet? Not a chance, and here’s why.

With the appointment of Claude Puel as first team coach last summer, there came a new vision for how Southampton should play their football. Puel adopted a number of systems during his first season as Southampton boss, trialling both a midfield diamond (442) and a conventional 4231, but the general approach was one of patience and disciplined structural organisation.

Puel encouraged his side to be comfortable on the ball and patient whilst in possession, searching for the perfect moment to cut through the opposition’s defensive lines.

This is a change in style that quite frankly, Tadic has found very little joy from, recording his worst Premier League season for both goals and assists

Where in the past Tadic would be tasked with the freedom to hunt for pockets of space and drive at the defence, he now finds himself surrounded by defenders with almost every touch of the ball. This is a symptom of Puel’s style of play, which hands the opposition the time to form two defensive banks as we look to break them down.

Whether this is Tadic’s failure to adapt, or even Puel’s failure to accompany Tadic in the side, It’s obvious to me that a patient style of football doesn’t bring the best out of Dusan.

Taking risks and playing with a high intensity has so often allowed Tadic to be at his best, but such a game plan was clearly discouraged by the Frenchman.

Evidence of this can be seen in previous seasons under Ronald Koeman, who played to Tadic’s clear strengths. During his debut season in the Premier League, Tadic fired in four goals and picked up seven assists, before recording seven goals and 12 assists in the following season.

Compare that to just three goals and five assists this season (despite starting six and three more games respectively) and it’s no wonder why he’s struggled this season.

It’s also worth noting that Tadic (24) has recorded more career Premier League assists than Alexis Sanchez, Raheem Sterling, Roberto Firmino and even Willian. A player of such quality doesn’t lose it all overnight.

There is however a criticism of Tadic that I can perfectly understand, and that’s his tendency to show a lethargic and disinterested attitude.

Tadic has never been one to run to the media and cause a stir, but this stroppy attitude on the field is one that doesn’t sit well with many fans – especially when the team is in a slump and needing inspiration.

Such a trait is infuriating to watch from the stands, but to tell the truth, it’s a common theme amongst attacking midfielders when they don’t receive the ball in the right areas. I’m not justifying his actions, but it’s certainly not unheard of. 

The final consideration for keeping Tadic is the potential for change this summer. If the Southampton board dismiss Puel as many are expecting, then a new manager will of course take charge, and this hands Tadic the opportunity for a fresh start.

We’ve seen first hand this season that new management can help talent individuals flourish. So if Cedric Soares and Oriol Romeu have been able to do so under Puel, what’s stopping Tadic from doing the same next season?

Whether Puel sticks around and decides to change his approach, or Southampton find new management, I’m certain that if we retain his services, we haven’t seen the last of Dusan Tadic at his very best in red and white. 

Southampton FC and VVD: It’s time to make a stand

With the potential sale of Virgil Van Dijk, the Southampton board could lose a damn sight more than just their best current player; they risk losing the trust of their fans.

According to Paul Joyce of the Times – one of the most reliable sources regarding Liverpool FC news – Virgil Van Dijk is set to snub interest from Manchester City this summer, in favour of a move to Anfield. Southampton have stated once already this summer that their club captain is not for sale, but Liverpool are set to test that resolve with an offer that could reach £60M.

Reports from the Daily Echo have since claimed that Southampton have requested that the Premier League investigates Liverpool over their “illegal” approach for the Dutchman, but the following point still stands. Regardless of who the interest is coming from, the Southampton board need to stand strong this summer.

Viewed objectively from a neutral’s perspective, it could be seen as yet more fine business from Les Reed and co (£60M is superb in fact). But I’ve got to say as a fan who well and truly loves his football club, I’m sick and tired of having to justify departures to myself, let alone anyone else, each and every summer.

I tell myself that the money is good for the club and that it’s hard to turn down such an offer, but there’s far more to football than positive balance sheets. For once, could the board please deliver on their comments and previous promises.

Now by no means am I stating that Southampton’s business model of buying low and selling high should be abandoned; it would be simply ridiculous to scrap a model that has helped our club to stand where it is today.

There comes a point however, when the board need to remember that this is a football club, and not just a business.

This business model has allowed us to find some of the most exciting gems in football, and it’s vital in preventing our club from ever facing the darkness of 2009 again. But it needs to be followed with moderation, and the reason being is that in football the board aren’t just managing finances and business, they’re also responsible for the emotions of loyal lifelong supporters.

Time and time again us Southampton fans have been promised that we will “build for next season”, or even retain the services of a particular player. The only exceptions that spring to mind are the board’s handling of Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer of 2013, and Victor Wanyama in 2014.

As mentioned before I completely understand why this business model has to be followed, but once every now and again, it need’s to be put aside. Virgil Van Dijk has five remaining years on his contract, whilst also currently assuming the role of club captain; so please, tell me now why our board shouldn’t stand strong and demand another season from the Dutchman.

Not only are we clearly in what many would consider a strong position to deny such a transfer, but it’s not like a similar offer won’t come along again next year.

Given that he’s arguably the most sought after defender in the Premier League and will have four years remaining on his contract by the end of next season, I certainly don’t expect his value to fall. You could even argue that it has the potential to rise.

Schneiderlin stuck around for another season after wanting out, and soon after received his “dream move” to Manchester United in return. If Van Dijk does the same, then who knows which European giant could come calling next summer…

A series of poor decisions at the top of a club can cause uproar amongst fans, leading to a divide between those running the club and those supporting the club. It’s worth remembering that behind any successful football club is the unwavering support of their fans, and for this reason, I will be distraught if we sell Van Dijk this summer.

With fans becoming increasingly wary of emotionally investing into Southampton FC, I worry about our club losing it’s identity and becoming yet another soulless Premier League side. With the chance to refuse the sale of Virgil Van Dijk this summer, we have an opportunity to prevent that from happening.

Charlie Austin’s fitness will be key in our upcoming season

Many Southampton fans are unhappy with how the 2016-17 season turned out, but should they be? There were many clubs that performed below par last season, and none more so than the former Champions Leicester City. Other teams like Manchester City, Stoke City and West Ham will all be looking for a big improvement on last term too. 

Southampton manager Claude Puel has come under criticism, but it’s kind of weird how a successful season comes back to haunt a club. Southampton came 6th in the league in the 2015-16 season and finished on 63pts. In the major football betting markets last season, the betting firms were clearly not fancying the Saints to repeat that. The problem that Claude Puel faced was twofold.

Had the Saints Peaked?

The fact is that Southampton are not a “top six” club despite coming 6th in the 2015-16 season. Their financial resources are far behind the traditional big six in England, so it was always going to be difficult for the Saints to replicate their previous form. Secondly (and something that went largely unnoticed) every single team in the top six finished last season with more points than the previous season.

This acted like a syphon on the rest of the division and led to many clubs being compressed in terms of points totals. An absolutely staggering 94pts more were earned by the top six clubs in the 2016-17 season, than in the previous year. This is a factor that must be taken into consideration when we look to assess Puel’s first season in the top flight of English football.

Southampton Faded

Many Saints fans were unhappy at how they finished the campaign, but they were not the only club to tail off towards the end. Southampton finished the season winning only two form their final nine, and it’s safe to say that such form is worrying for onlooking fans. However, there are a number of key factors that would have no doubt played their part in this poor run.

The shoulder injury to Charlie Austin was a big loss to the Saints, having fired in six goals in just thirteen appearances wearing the red and white stripes. A big negative for the Southampton fans over the 2016/17 season was their lack of goals overall, and this is an area that Puel (if he stays beyond this season) needs to correct.

Austin finished the season as the clubs highest scorer, and that is staggering considering he spent five months out injured. It’s clear that the Southampton fans expect greater contributions from players such as Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez and even Manolo Gabbiadini to some extent.

Long is a hit and miss striker and his stats are there back that up. Just 18 goals from 89 appearances won’t give opposing defenders sleepless nights before a game. As for Rodriguez, there are glimpses of his former self as games go by, but to tell the truth, he’s never been the same since that injury in 2014.

Gabbiadini arrived in the January transfer window from Napoli, where he scored 15 goals from 56 games, and a grand total of 42 goals during the entirety of his time in Italy. He kicked off life on South coast in immense form, scoring six from his first four appearances, but then ended the season on that same tally.

Do the Saints have the quality they need?

The fact is that Southampton clearly cannot go out and buy the top quality strikers like other clubs can. They need to stumble on a new “wonder kid” or another gem using their black box method to recruitment, and whilst the jury is still very much out on just how good Gabbiadini is, fans will want to see a greater involvement from the Italian come next season.

This makes Charlie Austin key to their chances of a successful year in the 2017-18 season. Austin has scored 93 goals in 183 games for Burnley, QPR and Southampton, and that goal every other game strike rate is exactly what the Saints need. They can’t just go into next season relying on Austin though, and they need better back up beyond Gabbiadini. Is it time for both Long and Rodriguez to move on?

Free-flowing attacking football has been engraved into the DNA of Southampton Football Club in recent years, and in order for fans to look back on the 2016-17 season as a strong building block, that needs to be corrected; I’m certain that Charlie Austin will play a vital role in doing so. 

Saint-Etienne optimistic in acquiring Claude Puel

Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne remain confident in securing Claude Puel this summer, but only in the event of Southampton dismissing the Frenchman.

The latest update regarding Puel’s current situation on the south coast was reported by France Bleu, who claim that whilst Puel hasn’t been in touch with Saint Etienne personally, his lawyer has been acting on his behalf.

With thanks to Patrick Kendrick’s translation, we are able to bring you the details of this France Bleu report.

The article states that Puel rejected an offer to take over from Christophe Galtier just two weeks ago, but Saint Etienne are now preparing a revised offer; it’s been said that Puel is far more interested to hear what Les Verts will offer this time round.

On top of potentially receiving a salary in the region of €3.7 million a year, the former Nice boss will also have the luxury of being nearer the south of France – a destination that he loves to visit during his time off.

Not to mention that Saint-Etienne themselves are willing to embrace new ways of playing, allowing Puel to take over a similar project to that of his time at Lille and Nice.

The only reported stumbling block between the two parties appears to lie with Puel, who wishes to take over control of all aspects at the club whilst in charge. If Puel becomes available, then Saint-Etienne will have to budge if they want to secure their top target.

From the outside looking in, this looks to be a far more comfortable proposition for Puel, who in truth, has had a torrid time in winning over the Southampton fans and adapting to the Premier League.

The bottom line however is that with Puel unlikely to leave of his own accord, any chance of a shuffle in management this summer starts and stops with the Southampton board.

Over to you, Les.

 

Southampton offered cash and Christensen for Van Dijk

Surprise surprise, we’re here again. According to an exclusive from The Sun, Chelsea currently lead the race for Virgil Van Dijk this summer, having blown away Arsenal’s offer of £150,000 a week.

Whilst Southampton are obviously reluctant to sell Van Dijk, the game-changing aspect of the offer is the fact that Andreas Christensen is also included in the deal.

Christensen spent the majority of his youth career at Danish outfit Brondby FC, before being snapped up by Chelsea at just 16-years-old. From here, he worked his way up through the academy and after two years of fighting for a chance in the first team, it arrived at the age of 18-years-old. The Dane then went on to feature once again in the League Cup, before making his first Premier League appearance on the 24th of May 2015 – just like many other Chelsea youngsters though, the opportunities stopped here.

This prompted both Chelsea and Christensen to look for game-time through a loan move, and in the form of Borussia Monchengladbach, Christensen has found exactly that. Two seasons and 76 first team appearances later, and Christensen has proved to be a stellar piece of business for the Bundesliga side.

During his two seasons with the club, Christensen has placed himself at the heart of the Gladbach defence, showing himself to be an extremely intelligent defender, who is more than capable with the ball at his feet. Quick concise passes around the defence and midfield are a regular feature of Christensen’s play, as he aims to push the team further up the field.

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Christensen is also extremely aware of his surroundings, and whilst there is still some work to do with the clumsiness of his close quarters tackling, time is on his side at just 21-years-old.

All in all, I have to say that if Southampton do go through the heartbreak of losing Van Dijk this summer, a cash plus Christensen deal would certainly soften the blow. Not only does the player suit Southampton’s style of play, but his age also helps him to be a suitable signing and a valuable asset.

It’s worth noting that we are approaching the summer transfer window, however, so with papers needing to be sold and articles hunting for clicks, it’s always worth taking each rumour with a pinch of salt. Southampton were linked with Nathan Ake and Christopher Jullien only earlier this week.

Whilst the potential acquisition of Christensen excites me, this certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve heard a report like this, and I’m certain that it won’t be the last.

Christopher Jullien joins Southampton’s centre-back shortlist

According to the Sun, Southampton are watching over Toulouse defender, Christopher Jullien, as a potential target for this summer transfer window.

Standing at 6 ft 4 inches, the 24-year-old plys his trade in Ligue 1, and has built up a reputation this season as a reliable and commanding centre back.

Despite this being the Frenchman’s first year in the top flight of his home country, he has missed just three game this season, featuring in 31 League fixtures – this has helped Toulouse climb up to 11th place in the table with four games still to play.

This season has been somewhat of a breakthrough year for Jullien, who prior to becoming a dependable first choice Ligue 1 centre-back, has been playing at a much lower standard.

Jullien started his senior career with Auxerre in Ligue 2, having fought his way into the first team through the academy. But after just two years with the club, the Frenchman was snapped up by Bundesliga side FC Freiburg on a free transfer. He failed to make an impact with the first team however, and went on to play 49 games for the second team, before being loaned to Ligue 2 side Dijon for the 2015-16 season. It was here that Jullien truly started to impress, and as a result, Toulouse offered him a four-year-deal in the top flight at the end of the season.

Unsurprisingly given his size, Jullien takes up a physical and combative approach to defending, often showing his greatest strengths through set pieces and aerial duels.

Jullien has also been known for his no-nonsense style of defending, showing no hesitation in clearing the ball at any cost, and having the ability to instigate attacks with long balls up to the forwards.

Jullien isn’t just effective in his own box either, as he’s managed to conjure up an impressive five goals in all competitions this season too – the same tally as both Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long!

But whilst many many be hoping that this transfer would be a nice ‘addition’ to the squad, the report states that Jullien would be signed as a replacement for Virgil Van Dijk. And whilst this may well prove to be typical gutter journalism to simply generate more clicks, my opinion of such as a transfer strategy remains unchanged; any centre-back shipped in this summer should be there to join Van Dijk, not replace him.