Window of change slams shut: Southampton’s transfers in review

It feels like only a short amount of time since the transfer window opened, but already the window’s slammed shut, with Southampton’s business going down to the wire. No fewer […]

Dusan Tadic Florin Gardos Fraser Forster Graziano Pelle Ronald Koeman Ryan Bertrand Sadio Mane Saphir Taider Shane Long Southampton FC Toby Alderweireld Transfer Window

It feels like only a short amount of time since the transfer window opened, but already the window’s slammed shut, with Southampton’s business going down to the wire.

Our local ground, St Mary's

No fewer than eight first team players have exited St Mary’s since the beginning of July – with nine coming in the opposite direction if you include Algerian midfielder Saphir Taïder’s 26 day stint at the club- the past two months have been another rollercoaster for Southampton FC.

For better or for worse?

Koeman has clearly had a lot of work to do in reshaping his squad and gelling a new team over pre-season. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all went to Liverpool to varying degrees of approval by the St Mary’s faithful, Luke Shaw joined van Gaal’s “revolution” at Manchester United for close to £30m, Calum Chambers joined Arsenal, and Dani Osvaldo, Gaston Ramirez and Jos Hooiveld, all deemed deadwood by Koeman, have also been shipped out on loan.

25 year-old Serbian winger Dušan Tadic was the first recruit of the summer.  Tadic played for FC Twente, one of Koeman’s Eredivisie rivals last season. His style will, while not a straight replacement, go a long way to replacing the creativity of Adam Lallana.

Saints in action against Arsenal at St Mary's

Saints in action against Arsenal at St Mary’s

Graziano Pellè will link up with Koeman once more after a successful couple of years together at Feyenoord. 50 goals over 57 appearances in the Eredivisie is an excellent record at any level. While many Premier League teams have been burned by recruiting ultimately awful Eredivisie goal-getters – we all remember Mateja Kezman – under familiar management, Pellè should excel.

A headline signing for the defence arrived on Deadline Day with Toby Alderweireld joining on loan from Atletico Madrid. With an option to buy for £6m come next summer, Southampton have an excellent deal for a defender who impressed across Europe for Belgium recently in the World Cup. Romanian centre-back Florin Gardos will also bolster the defence, a step needed even before the exit of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. Gardos replaced Vlad Chiriches in Steaua’s back line after the latter’s move to Tottenham, and is already a full international for his country.

Sadio Mané also joined on deadline day from Red Bull Salzburg, and has shown a great deal of promise in the Austrian Bundesliga during his short career. For a 22 year-old, a record better than one goal in two is incredible, let alone for a player usually deployed as a winger. Mané is already a regular in the Senegalese national team, and with this move to a top league, he should further his career even more.

Still the best player

Still the best player

Irish international Shane Long also joined the Saints after a fruitful six-month stint at Hull, forging a potent partnership with Nikica Jelavic for the Tigers. Not the most prolific of strikers himself, Long should provide excellent foil for Pellè or Rodriguez. A promising hurler as a youngster, Long is an excellent athlete, as well as a handy footballer. Joining Long is Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand on a season long loan. Bertrand’s finest hour for Chelsea came in 2012, starting the Champions League final, but the full back found himself increasingly frozen out by Jose Mourinho last season; in the end, Bertrand had to settle for not really impressing at Aston Villa. Bertrand has promise, but at the age of 24, he has to start fulfilling that – the player himself aims to earn a recall to the England squad this season. That’s achievable – four Saints players made their England debuts last term.

Another player with England ambitions is Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper linked up with Southampton after former club, Celtic, got knocked out of the Champions League for the first time this season. Already a starter, Artur Boruc, last season’s number one, is good, but not great. Forster will be looking to capitalise on any mistake made by Joe Hart at Manchester City this season as he looks to earn starts for England. By moving to a league that people can actually take seriously, he has already gone a long way to doing that.

Overall, then, there are many reasons to be positive for Southampton fans; massive profit has been made, while the board remain interested in youth development and bringing in exciting players from elsewhere. The exhilarating style of football which Pochettino played last season to great success is back under Koeman, too. While matching an eighth placed finish might be beyond a team which will take a lot of time to gel, in the long term, there should be no let-off in the ambition and drive which got the club into the top half of the Premier League to begin with.

Where will Saints finish this season? Leave your guesses in the comments!