Following Southampton’s incredible performance last season, it was inevitable that the top dogs would come sniffing but nobody quite expected the clearout that has taken place this summer. Almost every top performer for the Saints has left, leaving Ronald Koeman with an almighty challenge to not only make an impression but to do so without the likes of fantasy stars Shaw, Lallana, Lambert and Lovren.
Life After Pochettino
As fate would have it, the Saints have to travel to Anfield to face the side most responsible for ravaging their squad of the top performers. This is undoubtedly a tricky fixture but following this they face WBA, NEW and QPR at home whilst travelling to WHM and SWA. This provides a decent run of matches for Koeman to make his mark and forge the way for a new Southampton.
*home matches are squares, away matches are circles
A lot depends on how quickly Koeman’s new charges bed in but if they can help plug the gaps, Southampton could be challenging in the top half of the table once more. With Rodriguez injured for the foreseeable future, all eyes will be on new stars Tadic (7.5m) and Pelle (7.5m). Tadic has already drawn the praise of his manager, notching his first Saints goal against Brighton in pre-season. He has an eye for set pieces and comes to Southampton with a promising reputation after picking up 16 goals and 14 assists for FC Twente last season.
Pelle was brought in to fill the void left by Lambert but has yet to get going in pre-season, playing only once and scoring an own goal on that occasion against Leverkusen. When the season kicks off, he’ll be keen to make up for that mistake by notching in the other goal. Koeman knows him well having guided him to a fantastic season in 2013/14, where Pelle scored 23 times and produced 6 assists at Feyenoord.
With both players unknown quantities and weighing in at 7.5m, we simply don’t think they’re worth the risk at this stage despite the favourable run of fixtures. Allow yourself at least the Liverpool game to see whether they have the ability to adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League. If either impresses at Anfield, they could be worth the gamble but for now, other prospects seem more presentable. Let’s remember that Eriksen is only 0.5m more than Tadic and Dzeko is only 1m more than Pelle.
There could be value found elsewhere in the Southampton side though, with practically every other player coming in at 5.5m or less but you may want to assess them over the first few games to analyse Koeman’s impact and the consequence of letting last season’s stars leave.
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Author Credit: Richard Lam
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roberthertel/