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Southampton

Dusan Tadic is key man behind Southampton’s survival bid

The Serbian midfielder will be key for the Saints throughout the campaign run-in.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Nobody expected Southampton to struggle to the extent that they have this season.

The Saints’ recruitment policy was always likely to cause a poor season at some point, but the talent that they have in their squad led many to believe that they were too good for a relegation battle.

Unfortunately, the club’s quality hasn’t been enough to keep them out of the bottom three and they currently sit in the relegation zone with three matches left to play.

Victory over Bournemouth at the weekend has given them hope and they now go into their away match against Swansea City knowing that three points would see them climb out of the bottom three.

Dusan Tadic was the hero as he produced the two goals required to see off the Cherries in a South Coast derby.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Serbian international has blown hot and cold since arriving in the Premier League, but he has the star quality to fire Southampton to safety.

The Saints are in the position they are in for many reasons, but one of their main downfalls has been their attack.

They haven’t scored enough goals and had failed to score in five of their last eight matches in all competitions prior to Saturday.

It was obvious they needed one of their attackers to step up and be more clinical in the final third.

Although Tadic is known for his creativity, he can offer a direct goal threat and he did that against Bournemouth.

He had two chances and took both in a show of clinical finishing that had eluded Southampton during recent weeks.

The first was a smart finish after a quick counter-attack from the home side, while the second was a great strike that required precision and guile.

Southampton didn’t have it all their own way and Bournemouth caused them problems, but the performance from Tadic in the final third provided the cutting edge required to secure a crucial win.

There are some players that struggle to play in a team battling relegation and shy away as the pressure increases.

Some may have thought the Serbian would fit into that category, but he proved his worth to the team and there will now be a number of supporters hoping that he can finish the season strongly.

Aside from his two goals, Tadic had an impact in both halves of the pitch and was clearly the best player on the park.

He completed three dribbles and ended the match with a pass success rate of 89%, which is very impressive considering he had the ball in advanced areas.

The 29-year-old looked after possession well and made five key passes to influence the match.

It may be a cliché, but every player in a team battling relegation-threatened team needs to show fight and desire first and foremost.

That may be the minimum requirement, but it is a requirement nonetheless and Tadic gave his all for the team. He covered a lot of ground and made two tackles to lead the defensive effort from the front.

Tadic has had better seasons in England and he, alongside the rest of the squad, will feel that he could have contributed more over the course of the season.

However, those thoughts need to go to the back of the head and the focus needs to be on the task at hand.

It won’t be easy for Southampton to survive in the division, but if they are to be successful, their 29-year-old creative midfielder will need to deliver more performances like the one against Bournemouth.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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Bristol City

Sam McQueen linked but losing Joe Bryan would hurt Bristol City

The Englishman has been at Ashton Gate since 15 years of age.

Josh Kerr

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Joey Bryan
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Bristol Post, Bristol City are being linked with Southampton‘s Sam McQueen as the club’s replacement for full-back Joe Bryan, meaning the South-West club could be preparing for life without the 24-year-old, who has made over 229 appearances for the club.

The Robins ultimately look set to lose Bryan during the summer transfer window with Burnley, Everton and Aston Villa all keen on signing the left-back. With only a year left on his contract at Ashton Gate, the club could be tempted to cash-in for the home grown defender, for a fee of around £6 million.

Despite McQueen being a sensible replacement for City, his arrival wouldn’t quite soften the blow of losing Bryan, who has quickly established himself as one of the best all-round defenders in the EFL Championship.

The full-back has been with the side since he was 15 years of age and has gone on to become one of their most important players. Many will remember the 24-year-old’s wonder strike to help beat Premier League giants Manchester United in the Carabao Cup quarter-final, after a display that saw him named man-of-the-match.

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Losing a player of his calibre will not help the club’s attempts to challenge for the play-offs next season. Considering the club were in contention for a top two place as recently as Christmas, it is difficult to comprehend the board selling one of their best players.

The Robins sat second in the Championship during the festive period but went on to finish a disappointing 11th after only picking up 20 points from their final 22 games.

Lee Johnson reportedly sees McQueen, who was told he can quite St Mary’s this summer, as the most likely replacement for Bryan this summer, if the right offer comes in for the latter’s services.

The Saints defender played 22 times in the 2017/18 season, mostly from the bench, but is a player who could definitely prove his worth.

At 23, he still has years to improve and with a full Championship season under his belt, he could emerge a shrewd replacement for long-term servant Bryan.

However, the news won’t float well with City fans who would prefer to keep their homegrown player, rather than attempt to replace him.

Nonetheless, with a year left on his contract, cashing in on the £6 million talent, while bringing in Sam McQueen, could prove a smart piece of business from the Robins.

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Southampton

Mark Hughes appointment offers Southampton much needed stability

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Photo: Getty Images.

Southampton are closing in on making an appointment as their manager for 2018/19 and beyond with reports indicating that Mark Hughes will extend his initial short term stay with a three year contract.

Sky Sports say that talks are ongoing with an agreement nearing between the two parties as the Saints look to bounce back having narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League as one of the most disappointing performers over the past season.

It came after yet another managerial change last summer, with Claude Puel being dismissed and Mauricio Pellegrino appointed. The Argentinian lasted less than a year and was fired in March, too late from the point of view of many fans, with Hughes brought into to rescue the team.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Hughes may not be the most glamorous and exciting of appointments, lacking the unknown factor that the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman has in the past, but he does bring in Premier League experience and much needed stability.

Since taking over in March, he managed 1.10 points per match, compared to 1.09 for Pellegrino before him, but he did turn things around and save the team from the drop, with a new mentality getting the best out of some of the many players who had been underperforming.

Southampton have not had the same manager for more than two years since Nigel Adkins got the team promoted from the third tier back to the Premier League, and with a long-term contract Hughes could be that man.

After years of frequent change, cashing in on those who performed well and losing managers, for the first time in 2017/18 the gamble backfired and almost cost the club dearly. An investment in stability is the best logical next step.

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Celtic

Celtic playmaker Tom Rogic could be a star at Southampton

The 25-year-old is out of contract at Celtic next summer.

The Boot Room

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Photo: Getty Images

Celtic playmaker Tom Rogic is attracting clubs from all over the world but Premier League side Southampton are reportedly the latest team to be interested in throwing their hat in the mix for the Australian international.

According to reports from BBC Sport, Mark Hughes is very impressed with Brendan Rodgers’ 25-year-old star, who has played a vital role in Celtic’s treble-chasing side this season.

Rogic has a respectable eight goals and eight assists, despite being injured for a large chunk of the season, and could represent an impressive signing for Hughes and his Saints side, who last night looked to have ensured their Premier League survival after beating relegation rivals Swansea 1-0.

The Australian born midfielder may be interested in returning to England after progressing through the ranks at the Nike Academy in St George’s Park before making it professionally in his home country.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Southampton are, arguably, England’s best at spotting young talent and, at only 25, the midfielder definitely has his best days ahead of him. Hughes should ensure those are seen in the Premier League rather than the SPL.

Rogic’s technical ability and range of passing are up there with the best in the league and Celtic’s number 18 has scored some crucial goals this season.

He displayed his importance to Rodgers side and showed his goalscoring threat when he netted Celtic’s fourth in a 5-0 win over Old Firm rivals Rangers last Sunday, in which the Hoops clinched their seventh consecutive Scottish league title.

It not only displayed his goalscoring prowess but also how he has been a thorn in the side for the Gers. This was his fourth goal in four games against their Old Firm rivals.

However, despite Rogic hunting down yet another treble with Celtic, the midfielder only has one-year left on his contract and this may tempt Rodgers to cash in on the midfielder rather than wait and risk losing him on a free transfer.

This would spur the perfect opportunity for the Saints to bid for the midfielder and take an outstanding technically gifted player who would certainly thrive in the Premier League.

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