Long time coming: Southampton finally sign striker
Southampton, 7/4 for a top ten finish, have signed former Hull City striker Shane Long for £12m.
Speaking about the new signing, Saints boss Koeman stated: “He brings ambition and a great mentality – he’s always running and always working, and he’s very down-to-earth. He’s a great person, and we need that type of player.
“He brings a lot of experience to our squad because he’s already played at Premier League level for a few years. He knows what we need at this level, and he can show that to our younger players as well.”
Long, 27, netted four times in 15 appearances for Steve Bruce’s side last season, and also spent seven years at Reading, representing them in both the Premier League and Championship. The Republic of Ireland international began his career at Cork City, and has earned 47 caps for his country.
Commenting on the surprising switch, Long said:
“I’m delighted. This came out of the blue for me but, once I’d come and had a look at the training facilities and met the manager, it seemed like the right decision for me and my family.
“It was a hard decision for me to make, but when you come down to Southampton you see how big a club it is and how well set up it is.
“In theory it’s a very good move for me, but all the hard work starts tomorrow when I get on the training pitch because I have to prove my worth.”
Koeman turned his attention to Long after apparent top target Javier Hernandez supposedly snubbed a move to St Mary’s. The Manchester United and Mexico poacher is believed to favour a move abroad, with his international manager Miguel Herrera urging him to make a summer switch to Juventus.
Now the Saints coach has managed to secure the services of Long, he will be likely be paired with fellow new signing Graziano Pelle, who arrived from Feyenoord for a reported fee of £8m. Both new buys will be charged with the responsibility of replacing the goal threat of departed striker Rickie Lambert, who scored 14 times for the Saints last term.
Ex-Inter Milan winger Jonathan Biabiany is also apparently on Koeman’s wishlist, but the Dutch coach will have to fend off a host of Premier League clubs, including Everton and West Brom, to land the French forward.
Biabiany, 26, currently plies his trade in Serie A with Parma, and has netted 21 times for the Italian outfit during his two year stint at the club.
Southampton have seemingly found it difficult to recruit during this transfer window, amid rumours of discontent and an exodus of six top players, including England internationals Lambert and Luke Shaw, as well as former skipper Adam Lallana.
Goalkeeper Artur Boruc is believed to be the latest St Mary’s star to edge his way to the exit, after Koeman captured Celtic stopper Fraser Forster for fee of around £10m.
The Dutch boss admitted his newest signing will be first choice, and that he expects Polish international Boruc to rise to the role of understudy.
Speaking to media after snapping up Forster, Koeman revealed: “I’ve already spoken to Artur, and Fraser Forster comes in as the first goalkeeper. Artur has to give real competition, and I expect that because that’s the professional way.
“It’s a difficult situation for him, I understand that, but it’s football. We need competition in all of the positions.”
It is believed Boruc, who only has one year left on his current contract, sees his immediate future away from the south coast club, who are 11/2 to be relegated this season.
Perhaps unfortunately for the Pole, and wantaway teammate Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton seem to have closed the door on the possibility of further departures.