With the money that is available, it is feasible that Southampton could, over the next 3 years, look to push on for a Europa League spot. Next season I would be happy with mid-table progression, looking comfortable throughout the season and looking to finish 8th or 9th if possible, as opposed to this year’s early season struggles.
As a result, I have come up with a list of 5 potential targets for the club to go for in the summer. I have attempted to import a sense of realism when devising this list, but that is always immensely difficult to reach with the numbers of ludicrous rumours flying around. I don’t expect all of these players to join Saints, and there could be a situation where feasibly, none of these players join Saints, but it is meant to get us thinking about who we could bring in, and where we need to strengthen for the club to progress next season.
1. Davide Astori
Astori was heavily linked to Saints throughout the January transfer window and though the Saints defence has improved greatly in recent games it is still an area that needs strengthening and Astori could be the man to do it. The Italian centre half has a big reputation and could solidify a creaking defence. With Vegard Forren yet to play, and Maya Yoshida looking more and more comfortable as a Premier League centre back, we could reach the level of strength at the back that is necessary for the team to progress next season.
2. Scott Sinclair
Unhappy with a limited role at ManCity, Sinclair could look for a permanent or a loan move away from the club. We need extra depth and quality in the wide areas with injury troubles stalling Adam Lallana’s season at times, Jay Rodriguez being forced to play out of position their on numerous occasions, and Gaston Ramirez looking more suited to a central role. Although Sinclair has had a poor season with City, featuring barely at all, he could certainly add quality to our side, as he is creative, scores goals and has pace.
3. Darren Bent
This one might prove slightly controversial but Darren Bent is a proven goal scorer in the Premier League. Yes, Rickie Lambert has been terrific this season, scoring 14 goals and being part of most of the good things that happen going forward, and he should absolutely remain a central part of our plans, but the only way we can look to progress is by gaining depth and quality in our squad and Bent could supply that. Lambert has shown he can be just as effective up front on his own or alongside someone, and though I don’t wish to stunt the immensely encouraging development seen by Jay Rodriguez in recent times, it is important not to forget his early season struggles and the calls then for a quality replacement. I’m not saying that Bent should come straight into the side and replace Rodriguez, as the former Burnley striker has looked much more accomplished, and confident, since Pochettino took charge but the squad needs quality depth and I think Bent could supply that.
4. Radja Nainggolan
Another Player linked and someone who can play out wide or in the centre, Nainggolan is a Belgian midfielder who has been recently linked with the club from Italian side Cagliari, just like teammate Astori. I must confess to knowing very little about the Belgian but I am led to believe he can play in the centre or on the wing, and seeing a little bit of him play, I believe he could add strength to the squad in both these areas. If we were to sign him he’d surely be more likely to slot in out wide due to the outstanding form of Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin the centre of midfield, but with the price range of £15million being mooted for him, he has clearly got some talent.
5. Nicolai Boilesen
After considering my last choice at length, I was reminded of the summer link to this Danish left back from Ajax. Left Back is clearly an area that needs strengthening. Luke Shaw is progressing rapidly and looks a terrific player now, so who knows how good he will become but the back-up to him in this area is shocking. Danny Fox has proved to be utterly inept defensively and is crucial that we bring someone in who can challenge Shaw for a position, and is more than capable of coming into the side when Shaw tires. Shaw is only 17 and it is important that we don’t burn him out and in order to avoid this we have to get a suitable replacement. Boilesen was the name that came to mind but in all honesty anyone that is able to defend even a little bit would be a step in the right direction.