Despite finishing the transfer window with a Jose Fonte shaped gap in the heart of their defence, it seems that Southampton have finally found their man.
According to numerous sources, Southampton have scoured the free agent market and believe that former Barcelona and Juventus defender, Martín Cáceres, could be the answer to their problems.
Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph – a reputable source for Southampton news – has claimed that Cáceres has already visited Staplewood for his medical, and with just a quick look on Instagram, Southampton fans will be delighted to see that Cáceres follows just one account: Southampton FC. The only remaining tasks now, involve the club waiting on a work permit, and according to Adam Blackmore, the finalisation of his weekly wage. The deal is yet to cross the line, but quite frankly, I’m delighted.
The reason being is that Southampton finished the January transfer window with a weaker defence than when the window opened; something that a successful and ambitious club should never allow to happen. But with the nearing acquisition of Cáceres and a slice of injury-free luck, the Uruguayan International is more than capable of filling that gap. Here’s why…
When he’s on the pitch, Cáceres’ quality is evident. It’s why he spent many years with Juventus and why he’s been capped by Uruguay 68 times.
If you take a look at his career WhoScored numbers, Cáceres has averaged 2.0 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 2.7 clearances per game, while giving up 0.7 fouls per game. Compare that to Jose Fonte, who averages 1.7 tackles, 2.3 interceptions and 0.8 fouls per game. Quite comparable, if you ask me.
But here’s the big difference: our ex-captain averages a whopping 6.8 clearances per game, however, much of this can be attributed to the teams of which these two footballers have played for. Cáceres has played for European giants Barcelona and Juventus, and is used to dominating possession. Fonte has simply had to do more defending during his time with Southampton, therefore, a higher number of clearances would be expected.
Despite his injury woes, Cáceres was able to draw attention from top clubs across Europe throughout his career, and much of that was due to the wonderful development of his passing.
Taking yet another look at his stats from WhoScored, the Uruguayan massively improved his passing accuracy, beginning at Juventus with just over a 77% completion rate and ending his last season with over 94%. That brings his career average to 84.5%. Virgil van Dijk has averaged 83.1% passing accuracy for a career, and he is often lauded for his capacity to pass out from the back.
What’s more, Cáceres improved his accuracy by nearly 20% while also showcasing a solid ability to hit the long ball, averaging up to 4.0 per game during one season in Italy. His long passes per game haven’t remained consistently high, but it shows he is a willing and capable passer, depending on how his team asks him to perform.
The final and most important thing that Cáceres can bring to Southampton is the experience that he has gained through winning major trophies across Europe.
He joined Barcelona in 2008, playing behind Rafael Marquez, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique – helping the Catalan side lift the Champion’s League trophy and complete the treble.
Cáceres then went on to have loan spells at Villareal and Juventus, but eventually wound up with the Italian giants on a permanent basis in 2012. He helped Juve go on to win five consecutive Serie A titles, as well as the Coppa Italia two times.
All things considered, we know that Martín Cáceres can bring several things to Southampton: talent, success and an elite club history (as well as a top-notch man-bun). And provided Southampton are capable of keeping Cáceres fit – a hurdle that in the past, he has struggled to avoid – then I am convinced that this deal has the potential to make amends for our nightmare of a January transfer window.