Five signings to strengthen Southampton’s top four case
Southampton, 3/1 with Coral to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season, are currently clear in second place. They trail Chelsea by four points, and are two ahead of champions Manchester City. In the space of three days, their odds to finish in a Champions League spot have been cut from 9/2.
Ironically, Ronald Koeman would achieve what his predecessor at Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino, failed to, but yearned for so much. Not content with a Europa League place, he instead preferred to be plying his trade in Europe’s elite club competition.
Koeman is far more modest, and he will not be putting any more pressure than he needs to on his team; however, they have easily been one of the most impressive outfits in England’s top-flight. Like all good runs, though, the Saints encountering a blip is at some point inevitable.
Although, at the moment, they have a settled and impressive team, having more than adequately replaced Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren with Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle (25/1 top Premier League goal scorer), Ryan Bertrand and Toby Alderweireld, plus adding goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Sadio Mane, Florin Gardos and Shane Long, they have exceeded expectations.
With the progression of Nathaniel Clyne and the continuation of form from Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama, and Jack Cork, as well as James Ward-Prowse stepping up, prior to sustaining injury, and attacker Jay Rodriguez set to return around January, they have shown an ability and appetite to compete with the best.
However, with just two months until the winter transfer window, bringing some more recruits in to maintain a top four challenge could be apt, so we at Coral take a look at five names who could be tempted to the south coast club.
Although Jose Fonte has formed an impressive relationship at centre back with Alderweireld, the Portuguese defender is the wrong side of 30, and Southampton are relatively light in defence. In Veltman, they would be acquiring a top talent, who at 22, has plenty of potential, and Koeman will be aware of his ability, with the two both Dutch. Having come through the youth academy at Ajax, he has been blooded well, and could be available at around £6m.
Although he is 32, the Croatia national team captain would still bring quality to Southampton, as well as providing back up to Clyne. However, the Shakhtar Donetsk skipper can also ply his trade in midfield on the right and is known for his pace, crossing and dead-ball ability. He would also be a fantastic role model for the kids currently coming through at the Saints and his signature would certainly be a coup.
One of the bright sparks from Italy’s World Cup campaign, if he can be convinced to swap Rome for the south coast of England and join up with compatriot and national teammate Pelle, the Lazio man would wreak havoc with his boundless energy down the right.
The 25-year-old Athletic Bilbao midfielder would give Southampton an extra option in the centre, and is renowned for his defensive ability, being able to read the pattern of play. Currently on the cusp of the Spain national squad, he has plenty of potential, and would give the Saints a combative edge.
Tipped to be the next big thing for Russia, his club Dynamo Moscow inserted a €19m release clause into his contract. If Southampton were to sign him, Kokorin would more likely be a long-term solution rather than an overnight success, though, if Koeman was interested, he is the right man to get him playing, as he has done with Pelle so far this season.