Premier League profile 2015/16: Southampton
It again, has been another summer of transition for Southampton, 11/4 with Coral for a top six Premier League finish, though admittedly not as bad as 12 months ago.
Last year they lost Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, though with only Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin departing this time round, manager Ronald Koeman has had less of a job plugging the gaps.
Undoubtedly the biggest task is replacing centre half Toby Alderwiereld who opted not to sign on, following his loan spell last season. Steven Caulker has been signed in his place, again on loan and the Englishman will have to prove himself, if he wishes to earn himself a permanent deal, though Saints risk a repeat of the Alderweireld situation should he exceed expectations as well.
Cedric Soares and Jordy Clasie have taken the place of Schneiderlin and Clyne and are more than capable replacements, while more firepower has been added in the shape of talented Spanish forward Juanmi.
Jay Rodriguez will be like a new signing and he has hit the ground running in pre-season since returning from injury, already establishing a highly effective on-field, telepathic relationship with Graziano Pelle, who has been prolific in pre-season.
Clasie, nicknamed the “Dutch Xavi” has quality in abundance and can be the metronomic heartbeat of the Southampton team, alongside James Ward-Prowse and Victor Wanyama. This midfield trio has everything and with Dusan Tadic (another who had a great debut season last term) plus Rodriguez wide, flanking Pelle through the centre they are certainly well equipped.
Shane Long and Sadio Mane offer different options in attack, with the former a seasoned campaigner in the Premier League and the latter proving a tricky customer in his debut season. While Fraser Forster is recovering from injury, Koeman has brought in compatriot Marten Stekelenburg as cover, though undoubtedly the biggest test for the club will be at centre half.
There is no doubt that Koeman will want to reinforce this position before the end of the transfer window, though he delivered last summer, and supporters should have faith that he will do so once more.