It was a season to forget for the South coast club. Few would have predicted the Saints experiencing the relegation battling season they had after the appointment of former Liverpool player Mauricio Pellegrino in the summer.
The club stumbled through the first half of the season, and after a run of just one win in seventeen matches, the board had seen enough. Just a point above the relegation zone with eight games to play, former player Mark Hughes was hired to help turn things around. Fortunately, safety was all but confirmed following Manuel Gabbiadini’s late winner away to Swansea on the 8th May. Hughes has since been rewarded with a three-year contract. A busy summer may now be required to ensure the Saints go marching back up the Premier League table.
Mark Hughes is yet to bring any new faces to the club this summer. Three players have left St Mary’s however. Defenders Florin Gardos and Jeremy Pied have both been released from the club, with the former costing £680,000 per appearance. Gardos has since signed for Craivoa in his native Romania. Dusan Tadic has also departed St Mary’s for Ajax in an £18m deal – a superb acquisition from the Dutch outfit.
Following years of selling their best players, the Saints are now in desperate need of adding quality reinforcements to their squad. The club ran out of time to bring Quincy Promes to the club from Spartak Moscow in January, and reports suggest they are still interested in signing the Dutchman. Money should be available to Hughes following the £75 million sale of Virgil van Dijk in the last transfer window, but it may be surprising to see the Saints pay the £35 million plus for an unproven Premier League player.
The Saints have also snapped up defender Jannik Vestergaard from Borussia Monchengladbach, as well as Stuart Armstrong from Celtic, Mohamed Elyounoussi from Basel and goalkeeper Angus Gunn from Manchester City, though the remaining month of the summer 2018 window is a true crossroads for Southampton in their potential progression for the 2018/19 campaign.
With no Virgil van Dijk replacement signed in January, another central defender to complement Vestergaard must be signed. Number one target Ben Gibson has long been linked with a move back to the Premier League from Middlesbrough and would cost around £20 million. With squad depth needed, Liverpool’s Danny Ward and Danny Ings have also been linked with moves to club. Ings was let go as a schoolboy and has previously hinted at his wish to score goals for Southampton at the highest level.
Alex McCarthy’s breakthrough season in goal hasn’t gone unnoticed. With a year left on his contract, the Englishman is of interest to a number of top Premier League clubs. Italian Manolo Gabbiadini could well be another departure after struggling in his first full season in England, with reports suggesting he is desperate to return to Italy this summer. Club captain Steven Davis also looks likely to be on his way out of the club following a fall down the pecking order.
Written by Dan Blank.