Transfers

Why Europa could be on the cards for Koeman and co

We are now 23 games into the Premier League season and finally, it seems Southampton have found their feet. In a season where Leicester City are three points clear at the top and Chelsea have dealt battle with Bournemouth, Norwich and Villa for relegation, It would hardly be preposterous to suggest that Southampton can compete in Europe for the second season running. Here’s why.

The opening fixtures were greeted by fans as periods of transition, but as Southampton approached the midway point of the season, attractive football and results were few and far between.
Matchday 19 saw Southampton suffer a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Slaven Bilic’s Payet-less Hammers. Matchday 20 brought even more misery, with Southampton leaving Carrow Road empty handed. And one week later, Alan Pardew’s Palace dumped Southampton out of the FA cup.

But then, with a change of system, the return of Fraser Forster and the revenant of Shane Long, Southampton find themselves having played three games with nine points, six goals and three clean sheets to show for it.
Despite this being the first time Southampton have clicked all season, they sit in the comfortable heights of eighth place in irrepressible form. All of this makes for good reason to be optimistic for the remainder of the season, right?

Since being in the Premier League, one of Southampton’s biggest downfalls has been squandering those crucial moments and failing to bury half chances; quite frankly, this is what separates mid table teams from the top four. This season especially, Southampton have started the first half brightly, carving a number of key chances for themselves. However, putting them away has proved rather difficult to watch.

With Charlie Austin now in Southampton’s ranks, they have their proven goal scorer; they have a game winner. To put it into facts and stats, Pelle has taken 175 shots since the start of the 2014/15 Premier League season, scoring 18 goals. In that same time, Austin has taken 179 shots and scored 29 goals in a far less able attacking outlet.

Southampton fans have every reason to be optimistic about the prospect of Austin’s movement, positioning and finishing in the red and white stripes. One can only hope that with the addition of Austin, fans won’t have to rue those wasted chances come the final whistle.

The signing of Charlie Austin has been made all the more thrilling as its coincided with the return of England International Fraser Forster, the integration of England U21 Matt Targett and the simply faultless performance from James Ward-Prowse versus West Bromwich Albion.

Why may this help us achieve European football? we have our identity back. Youth development and an English spine have gone hand in hand with Southampton over previous years and during the first half of this season, it was nowhere to be seen. Whilst we all love watching Pelle tuck one away, it’s all the sweeter watching an England International rifle one home.

The fans are once again thrilled to watch local boys represent their club, impressed to see that we have a set direction and that foreign players can understand what we’re all about. A club losing its identity is dangerous and hard to recover, simply look at Manchester United. But right now, It’s exciting. Really exciting.

So exciting in fact that wantaway transfer rebel, Victor Wanyama, has reportedly told friends and family that he wants to sign a new deal. Refusing to sell our finest talents has been a big step toward growing as a club, but convincing them to extend their stay, that’s a sign of ambition to all players currently in the squad and potential future signings. Not only does it provide a mental boost to the team, but it also allows Koeman to plan for the future and know that he can rely on Wanyama. Pinning down stars on a new contract means far more than just retaining the talent.

Now we come to Fraser Forster. It could easily be argued that the England International has been the catalyst in Southampton’s revival of form. Since returning from injury, Forster and our now discipline defence have kept Watford (H), West Bromwich Albion (H) and Manchester United (A) at bay. That’s three clean sheets from three possible fixtures. Before Forster returned, we kept three clean sheets in our previous 17.

Whilst the six-foot-seven-inch shot-stopper has not been pushed into any hard work yet, his influence is clear to see. He’s installed that much-needed confidence back into our defence and allowed us to once again play out from the back.

As for competition, a goal-shy Crystal Palace are falling down the table, Everton’s inability to defend completely undoes the hard work of their frontline, Stoke simply don’t hit the back of that big white thing enough and Swansea have found themselves in a surprising battle for Premier League survival. At this moment in time, It looks to be a four horse race between Manchester United, West Ham, Liverpool and Southampton for European football.

In reality however, Southampton will only achieve Europa League qualification through the triumph of two already European qualified teams in the FA cup and Capital One Cup. Never the less, it would require us to finish somewhere in the top seven spaces; what an incredible turnaround that would be given Southampton’s poor early season form.

Yes, it’s a big ask. Yes, we will be relying on the work of others and yes, our form may well collapse over the next 15 games. However, we’ve all followed the Premier League and Southampton far too long to know that the unpredictable is rather predictable.

Austin Powers: Yeah baby

Southampton fans awoke yesterday morning in the hope of securing a back-to-back Premier League win during their three o’clock fixture against West Brom. However, Southampton made the fans day by early morning, after Sky Sports revealed that the club had agreed on a fee with Queens Park Rangers over Charlie Austin. By the time 12:00 struck, all the paperwork was finished and Austin was now a saint. But, is this yet more astute business for Southampton, what are the worries and how will he fit in?

First things first, the deal. Austin had six months remaining on his contract at QPR, taking him through to the summer as a free agent – clearly aware of the competition for the Englishman, Southampton acted fast, smooth and quiet. The result? acquiring a forward who scored 18 Premier League goals last season for a reported fee of four million. You’ve only got to look as far as Southampton’s south coast neighbours Bournemouth, to see the value held in this deal – the Cherries have forked out £18 million on unproven Premier League talent in Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban.

Not to mention that if Southampton had allowed negotiations to run through into the summer, a rather greedy agent would be wanting his contribution covered by a nice big cheque. As for wages, Southampton can afford to spend bigger on the wage bill due to the discounted asking price.

Four million to obtain a proven goal scoring Englishman is incredible business, no matter how you look at it.

Another area which must be touched upon is his record of injuries; however, as a matter of fact, that argument seems rather fallacious. Austin has scored at least 17 goals in each season as a professional footballer. Clocking up 160 appearances over the past five seasons, that’s over 32 games per season. Not bad for someone that has falsely been labelled as injury ridden.

Regardless of what many bitter fans may say about Austin’s injuries, were guaranteeing at least 13 goals per season. Why is that? well…

18 goals in a side that finished rock bottom of the Premier League last season. 18 goals in a team with next to no service. A player with such class in the box and the ability to create a chance from nothing is mouth watering for a Southampton side that needs a killer instinct. Swapping Matt Phillips for Sadio Mane and Junior Hoilett for Dusan Tadic can only bode well for Southampton fans expectations.

But where will Austin fit in? At this moment in time, it’s rather difficult to say given the sudden form of Shane long and the new change of system. Southampton originally operated as a 4-3-3 this season, but poor form and predictable play resulted in switching to a 5-3-2 formation. Austin typically flourishes when around a player who can help to free up space for him. Given that, the movement, aerial threat and work rate of Shane Long seems a logical match for Austin’s play. To bench the Irishman after recent showings would be simply criminal. This then leaves Koeman the task of finding space for Mane, Davis, Tadic. Rodriguez, Pelle and Targett – Koeman is being presented the best type of managerial nightmare.

Charlie Austin is a name mentioned many times in previous transfer windows for Southampton. Throughout this time, Southampton fans have had that funny old feeling that he would end up leading the line for us. Now it’s come true, we can only hope that the feeling of this transfer being the bargain of the window comes true too.

Le Tiss gives his thoughts and the truth on Mane’s meeting mix-up

 

On the second of January, Sadio Mane became the latest player at Southampton football club to take centre stage, turning up late to the pre-game meeting versus Norwich City. However, club legend Matthew Le Tissier believes that Ronald Koeman’s treatment was “A little bit harsh” after finding out what really happened.

Speaking to Le Tissier, he told us his thoughts on how Ronald Koeman dealt with the situation.

I think he’s obviously got rules in place in terms of timekeeping that he felt he would be compromised if he didn’t punish Sadio Mane for turning up late for the meeting before the Norwich game

Le Tisser then went on to give details about the situation and explain that it was in fact, a miscommunication.

There was an issue where the time of the meeting actually got changed.

Sadio turned up for the original time of the meeting, but, he wasn’t aware that the meeting had been brought forward ten minutes said Koeman.

As a result of Koeman’s rather one-sided story, Mane has received some now undeserved abuse through social media.

Having all the facts, it might have been a little bit harsh to have dropped him from the side that that day.

Thoughts On Koeman’s Latest Quotes

During yesterday’s pre-Crystal Palace presser, questions were continually thrown toward Ronald Koeman regarding the future of the usual transfer suspects. If there wasn’t already enough headlines surrounding Sadio Mane, then his decision to arrive late for the team meeting threw a gallon of fuel on the already burning speculation surrounding his future at the club; Victor Wanyama’s rather pathetic dismissal certainly didn’t help the situation either. With both incidents falling perfectly in time with the January transfer window, the dodgy transfer links and “ITK” sources were in full swing.

However, the message is clear from Koeman, no one is leaving. The Southampton boss told the media that “If there is any player thinking if his behaviour is not good that makes it easier for the player, then I’ll put the player in the stands until the end of their contract.”

In my opinion, that’s not the way you have to do your job as a football player”

Koeman has reiterated time and time again throughout the season that no one is for sale, but this message is rather different. He’s spoken about behaviour, the need to be focused and told the fans the exact plan that he would enforce, should it be necessary. All too often Southampton fans have been left in the shadows of decisions, completely unaware of the approach that their own football club is taking. Over previous transfer windows, it’s hard to decide whether Southampton as a club want the money, respect of our own players (It’s remarkable I’m having to suggest that) or just to chuck the bad eggs out.

It’s not only a message to current players, but a statement to players who may look to join Southampton this window, this summer or in future seasons. This club has demanded respect from its players for the fans and the success of the club.

If a big money move is on a player’s mind, then so be it. We can hardly expect a 22-year-old Senegal-born player who spent two years in Austria with a history of forcing transfers, to fall at his knees with love in his eyes at Southampton. Every player has ambitions and If our club can be of help in that, brilliant. All we ask for in exchange is a positive attitude and 100%, week in, week out. Provided the situation is clear, the deal remains intact and intentions are known, there is nothing wrong with being used as a “stepping stone”.

It was a hard-hitting statement at a much needed time; Southampton fans have been crying out for such clarification. With the club’s stance on outgoing transfers now settled, it’s time to settle the players on-pitch performances.

Calum Chambers: Boo Who?

It’s the 73rd minute and down upon the St Mary’s touchline, ex-Saint Calum Chambers is preparing for his return. Throughout the game, there had been applause for Theo Walcott and a warm reception for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, yet Chambers was met by a chorus of boos. Why?

Having broken into the first team under Mauricio Pochettino, Chambers went on to make 22 appearances during the 2013/14 season – this was all whilst in competition with Nathaniel Clyne. Southampton fans had been greatly impressed with the full back’s defensive capabilities and were excited for what the next season may hold. However, when Pochettino walked out the door and the club’s finest talents were stripped, Arsene Wenger came calling.

The opportunity to work under a manager of Wenger’s class and status is a footballing honour. As much as we moan that our players are jumping ship and leaving something special, with players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in Arsenal’s ranks, things are rather special there too. It’s not hard for a managerial great like Wenger to sway the mind of a 19-year-old, especially whilst he watches his manager-less club seemingly come crashing down. The current Arsenal squad, players of the past and some of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch sing the Frenchman’s praises for a reason. No blame here.

But what about game time? Was this a financially motivated move? Southampton fans have certainly suggested it and to that, I say, no chance.
To begin with, Pochettino was effectively alternating between Chambers and Clyne. A staggering number of people seem to be implying that Chambers was taking the jump from an integral, 40 game-a-season player, into a Capital One/FA cup back up. Not so; during his debut season at Arsenal, he went on to make 23 appearances.

With the combination of an impressive performance against Bournemouth and a sudden drop of form in Mathieu Flamini, Chambers will now look to make his mark on the first team once more.

Add to that the fact that Arsenal pick up injury, after injury, after injury. With Chamber’s able to play at right back, centre back and as a defensive midfielder, there is always a window of opportunity for this versatile youngster. His mind is certainly focused on his football.

Finally, and most importantly, however, Southampton never objected to this move. The board were happy to conduct business with Arsenal and that saw a handsome £16M transaction take place for a player that wasn’t the first choice right back. Astute business once again from Southampton.

Our fans anger and judgment toward Calum Chambers is implicitly linked to one horrible, painful summer. We’ve dragged a nice and respectable young player who was presented an incredible opportunity into the same category as liars, players who refuse to play and players who bad mouthed the club. The money was right, the negotiations were honest and had this not deal not taken place in such a dark period for the club, we would have all wished him well. So, upon Chamber’s next return to St Mary’s, have a moment’s thought and change the tune for a young man trying to chase his dream.

 

Transfer Talk: Seven Suggestions For Upcoming Windows

Whilst I and many other fans believe that their will be no real injection of talent in January, we can hope that the board has been swayed by Koemans recent words; even our captain, Jose Fonte is an agreement, stating “ I’m sure they’ll be looking to add some quality” If you don’t keep up you see very clearly that you start dropping, so we need to keep up.”

So, as the rumour mill begins to link our stars away once again, I decided to have my own fun and list a few potential attacking talents on our radar.

1)     Charlie Austin 

Many fans have called for Southampton talisman, Graziano Pelle, to have some high quality competition on his back. Austin would be the perfect proven signing given that he scored an impressive 18 goals in his debut Premier League season and boasts eight goals in 14 appearances this season – it’s clear to see that Austin should be applying his trade higher than the Championship. The current QPR man has even spoke of finding the “right opportunity” in the upcoming January transfer window. Not to mention that given the Englishman’s loyalty shown in the past summer and QPR’s unlikely chance for promotion, the asking price will be reasonable at a time when fees become so inflated. The only problem is that it seems just a little too obvious for Southampton.

2)     Juan Quintero

This Colombian attacking midfielder has been on the the lips of many fans and reporters in previous windows. With Koeman’s hunt for a number 10 still underway, the interest shall most likely reignite with Porto when his loan spell at Rennes comes to an end. Having made 13 appearances for his country at the age of 22, the little magician has made quite the name for himself.

3)    Denis Cheryshev

Last season at Villarreal, Cheryshev scored four goals and created nine assists in 26 La Liga outings.

However, with only two appearances to his name so far this campaign, Cheryshev’s start to the 2015/16 season has been one of false promise under Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid. With such a lack of game time, he would certainly be open to a January loan move – the Russian will want to be back at his best in time for Russia’s Euro 2016 participation.

4)     Loic Remy

No matter how many windows of opportunity open for Remy to show his talents, Mourinho simply slams them back down with denial and stubbornness. With Costa only holding four goals to his name this campaign and the goalless Eden Hazard ahead of him in the number nine pecking order, Remy surely cant wait much longer for first team action. If Roman Abramovich dips into his wallet, then Remy will most likely be shown the door.

5)     Alen Halilovic 

Halilovic has been touted as a wonderkid by many and his exceptional talent has been on show for Sporting De Gijon this season. But, with the Barcelona frontline currently as strong as it is, another loan deal may be on the cards for the little Croat. Perhaps a Barcelona buy-back clause is a possibility? We’ve seen the Catalan club send out their fine talents in the past, only to snatch them back once their ripe.

This deal could be encouraged by Southampton’s work with youngsters and the great development on Deulofeu during his time in the Premier League. Koeman’s strong relationship with Barcelona is also a factor in attracting such a talent. It’s a high hope, but football is one mad game.

6)     Georginio Wijnaldum

This Dutchman has been what many would argue as the only bright spark in the current Newcastle side. He’s scored seven goals since joining in the summer, creating 17 chances along the way; imagine the destruction he could cause in an organised and free flowing unit.

Both the Koeman brothers have made it clear that they are admirers of the 25 year old and It would come as no surprise to me if Southampton were to place a bid come the end of the season.

7)     Solly March

The England U21 International has been in exceptional form for the Seagulls this season, attracting Southampton in the previous summer and once again now. He’s quick, sharp, busy and possesses an excellent delivery, playing a key role in Brighton’s 19 unbeaten games. Our fans love to watch a young English player, even if they aren’t from the Southampton academy. Put on those red and white stripes and you’re one of us.

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.