Southampton taking grave gamble by allowing exodus
If there’s one thing the Premier League elite have had in common this summer, then it is the incessant pursuit of dismantling the talented young team at Southampton.
As a result of an exodus, which could stand at seven if Spurs have their way and former boss Mauricio Pochettino poaches Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin, Coral’s odds on the Saints being relegated are now 9/2. That’s half the price they were when the book opened.
Liverpool, 10/1 title chances, are mostly to blame for the St Mary’s dressing room emptying, buying trio Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren to strengthen the spine of their side. Young full backs Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw, meanwhile, are now at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.
So Southampton have got money in the bank, almost £100m potentially, but that begs the question just how much new coach Ronald Koeman will get to spend? Stories in the spring surfaced suggesting Saints had unpaid transfer fees from their own previous recruitment, not to mention the bill for their new training ground to foot.
Koeman has splashed around £20m combined on Serbia international winger Dusan Tadic and Italian striker Graziano Pelle, but missed out on highly-rated centre back and England cap Steven Caulker. Tabloid rumour mills persist with linking Southampton to Celtic stopper Fraser Forster and their Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk, who could cumulatively cost a similar total.
These deals, if done, will offset the firesale to some extent, but consider record signing Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is set to make a permanent return to Italy, along with Uruguayan flop Gaston Ramirez, and Saints really are short in attack.
Southampton’s hierarchy are rightly proud of their academy, but never before have sold the fruits of it en masse by letting Chambers, Lallana and Shaw all leave simultaneously. It means another crop of kids, including James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reid who recently signed a new contract and Sam Gallagher, should get regular game time this term.
You can’t help feel, however, that chairman Ralph Krueger and the Saints board have staked the club’s top-flight security, although they are adamant Rodriguez and Schneiderlin won’t be sold. That is something that has clearly upset the latter, if his Twitter page is anything to go by.
So, it seems what’s left of the Pochettino team of 2013/14 wants out too. Successor Koeman is a very short price at 7/4 to replicate the top 10 finish of last season, when you consider the players that have gone and could be going. Punters and Premier League fans alike should watch Southampton with keen interest this term, then.