Southampton facing yet another excessive summer exodus
Southampton endured a mass exodus in last summer’s transfer window, with many of their top stars moving on for supposed pastures new, and the south coast club could soon face a familiar frenzy of departures for consecutive seasons.
Within in Saints ranks lie a host of potentially world-class players, with their reputations and estimated values having rapidly risen this term after another successful domestic campaign so far, as Ronald Koeman’s men tabled a battling bid to incredibly claim a Champions League place.
However, the Premier League high-flyers hit a slight stumbling block earlier this calendar year, after making such a progressive start, which has halted any momentum and possibly ended their hopes of a coveted position among Europe’s elite next season.
Southampton have dropped to seventh in the table, after a domestic decline, and they are now 14/1 outsiders with Coral to recover and finish within those fiercely contested top four spots. Failing to do so, or even with European action secured, some of their current crop of players are possibly heading into the final few months of their St Mary’s careers.
Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, James Ward-Prowse and James Rodriguez have all been heavily linked with moves away from the south coast this summer, as the present big names prepare to follow the same path out of the club as their former teammates dashed along last season.
France international midfield maestro Schneiderlin has been superb again this current campaign, despite previously trying to force a move away from the club, but to no avail. The talented anchorman ace has been tracked by Arsenal and could potentially slot into their line-up for many years to come.
In-form full back Clyne has risen to prominence this term for club and country with his astute displays at right back, reportedly attracting interest from Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. If a switch to Old Trafford does materialise, the full back would follow in the footsteps of his former teammate and fellow defender Luke Shaw, who has endured a lacklustre maiden campaign in red since a £30m move.
Despite not featuring in a single competitive match this season due to a serious knee inkury, attacking threat Rodriguez’s previous high-standard campaign seems to have been enough to generate a potential bidding war between top-flight clubs Tottenham and Manchester City. The attacker was among former stars Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to have performed superbly last campaign, but all three players have since departed to Anfield.
As well as possibly losing their permanent stars, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that brilliant Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld will remain at St Mary’s beyond his season-long loan deal from Atletico Madrid, with a host of European giants also circling for his sublime services.
Another huge problem for the club will be replacing sensational stopper Fraser Forster, who has been ruled out for up to a year with a knee injury, a fatal blow to Koeman whose goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than any other top tier number one this term.
Dutch gaffer Koeman will be reluctant to let any of his star names leave, at least not cheaply, but even his future is shrouded with uncertainty, after reports that the former PSV Eindhoven manager is being lined up to become Barcelona boss, having previously spent two years as assistant Nou Camp coach before the turn of the millennium.
Southampton manager Koeman recently revealed that he wouldn’t blame his own players, mainly Schneiderlin, for wanting to depart in the summer if big clubs come in for their services.
“It is very hard but normally if we have the season like we have so far there will be interest in the players of Southampton,” he said of Les Bleus’ holding player Schneiderlin. “If he gets a big offer from a big team, there is always interest for the player and I understand that.”
Southampton are still in the running for a European spot but have dropped off the pace, and they are now odds-on 4/7 to secure a top six finish.