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Has this Southampton star justified his price tag this season?

The Boot Room

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When rumours of Shane Long’s £12m move from Hull City to Southampton started to circulate, many fans were baffled. It seemed hard to understand why Southampton would pay £12m for a striker that had never got into double figures in the Premier League. The only impressive traits Long had, seen from him during his spells with Reading, West Brom, and Hull, was that he was quick and would chase down any ball that was still in play. His debut season at Southampton was ordinary. This season has been anything but.

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Long had to deal with the pressure of the transfer fee as well as having the famous no. 7 shirt at St. Mary’s in his debut campaign. He spent most of the last campaign on the south coast out on the wing rather than in his favoured position down the middle which was occupied by Graziano Pellè.

Long started this season as he finished the last; playing second fiddle to Pellè. The Italian had been Ronald Koeman’s preferred choice after the Saints boss bought him from his former club Feyenoord. However, Pellè has experienced a difficult season this term, struggling with form and injuries after a strong start. Long was the man that replaced Pellè superbly when he was injured. Long’s performances were so impressive that when Pellè returned from injury, he could only settle for a place on the bench with Southampton’s number seven one of the first names on the team sheet.

One of the reasons that Long has become such a key player for Southampton was highlighted at full time after Southampton’s victory over Manchester City at the beginning of May. A Southampton supporter tweeted a photo of Shane Long dropping to the floor with exhaustion; an image that epitomises everything that he offers the Saints. Long’s work rate is a perfect match in Ronald Koeman’s system of pressing opponents. Whether he successfully wins the ball back or forces the opposition into making a mistake, Long’s work rate ensures that opponents don’t have a moments rest when he’s on the pitch. The 29-year-old is relentless in his pressing and it’s his appetite for the game that has made him such a popular figure at St. Mary’s.

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Whilst Long’s performances may only get the plaudits when he finds the back of the net, his full contribution to Southampton is often only evident when you’re able to watch a full game. His persistent and tireless style from the first whistle until the last has ensured that week in, week out, he is a thorn in the side of the opponent. Whilst he may not be as technically gifted as some of his teammates, he has certainly shown this season why every team needs a Shane Long.

One criticism of Long’s has been that he’s not clinical enough. Before he joined Southampton, he had never reached double figures in the Premier League. That changed this season when his energetic performance in the 4-2 victory over Manchester City was rewarded with his 10th league goal. Long’s desire to beat Nicolás Otamendi to the ball sent the striker into double figures in a game that some criticised the decision to give hat-trick hero Mané the man of the match award because of Irishman’s impressive performance.

Koeman recently praised Long, stating that he has become “more complete as a player, as a striker”, also joking that he was glad the forward wasn’t playing in his heyday as a central defender. Long has exemplified that a player can never be too old to develop and grow into a better player. He revealed recently that Koeman has educated him a lot about the game and his newly taught understanding of football has enabled him to become a better player.

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From being on the fringes to being the first name on the team sheet, Long has gone from strength to strength under Koeman and at St. Mary’s. Saints have gone under the radar in the second half of the season because of Leicester’s remarkable feat. Only the Foxes have picked up more points since the turn of the year than Koeman’s men and Long has been an integral part of that. It speaks volumes of Long’s attitude and determination as well as the quality of the staff at Southampton to make the Irishman an even better player than the one that arrived under a cloud of confusion.

From the raising of eyebrows at the price tag to the raising of fans out of their seat with tireless work rate, sheer endeavour, an unrivalled hunger for the game and an improved eye for goal, Shane Long has become a favourite amongst the St. Mary’s faithful. Long may it continue.


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Liverpool

Southampton is the ideal destination for Liverpool forward Danny Ings

The Liverpool forward has had a torrid time on Merseyside

Liam Thomas

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Danny Ings
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Liverpool signed Danny Ings back in 2015 after the forwards terrific season with Burnley earned him a big money move to Anfield. However, largely due to injuries, the Englishman’s time on Merseyside has been spent on the sidelines.

With the new Premier League season edging closer, it looks as if Ings’ time at the Reds may be coming to an end and, according to The Sun, Southampton are keen on bringing the forward to St. Mary’s to head up their forward line.

Liverpool rate Ings at £20 million but the Saints will be looking to require his signature for half that price given the forward’s recent injury record and there seems no better destination for him to rediscover the form that saw him leave Burnley for Anfield.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Southampton was the club it all started for Ings, with the forward playing for Saints as a schoolboy. Now the Englishman is fighting fit and ready to go, it seems the South coast outfit would offer him the first team action he needs to become a prolific goalscorer once again.

A fresh start is exactly what Ings needs to reignite his Premier League career and, at 25 years of age, he still has a lot left in the tank to give some of his best years to Mark Hughes’ team.

If the Liverpool forward could rediscover the form that saw him score 43 times in 139 appearances for Burnley, Southampton could profit hugely.

Are the Saints the team for Ings to finally rediscover that fortune? Given a little bit of confidence and a run of minutes under his belt, St.Mary’s could become the perfect playground for the forward to flourish.

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Southampton

Five ins and outs Southampton could complete this week

A new striker is reportedly a top priority for Mark Hughes’ side.

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After narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League last season, pressure is on Mark Hughes as Southampton look to climb the standings in 2018-19.

The Saints have already bolstered their ranks with the captures of Jannik Vestergaard, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Angus Gunn and Stuart Armstong but continue to be active in the market in pursuit of further additions.

With finances delicately poised, exits from the south coast are also likely and the upcoming week could prove to be a busy one for Southampton. Here, we have identified five reported deals that could go ahead.

Danny Ings: Liverpool

After an injury-plagued spell at Liverpool, Danny Ings is seen as surplus to requirements for Jurgen Klopp ahead of the new season and Southampton have emerged as candidates to land the services of the 25-year-old forward.

The Sun states Liverpool want £20m for the striker’s services but Southampton are prepared to only offer half of that figure, with additions based around his appearances and performances – although they face competition in the market from Crystal Palace.

Hughes is looking to bolster his attacking options ahead of the new campaign and Ings could be the ideal signing if he puts his injury problems behind him.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Fraser Forster leaving on-loan

England international Fraser Forster could be leaving the St. Mary’s Stadium following the club’s signing of Angus Gunn from Manchester City, as the 22-year-old is expected to become first-choice for Southampton next term.

The Daily Mail state the Saints are prepared to offload the 30-year-0ld and may ask the former Celtic man to leave on-loan, with the same paper claiming Forster was previously a target for Leeds United before the Lilywhites signed Jamal Blackman from Chelsea.

Unnamed Premier League sides are said to be interested in Forster, who last played for Southampton in the 5-2 defeat to Tottenham on Boxing Day.

Andrea Petagna: Atalanta

Another reported striking target for Southampton, it could be possible that the Saints sign two more strikers before the close of the transfer window – especially if the first player through the door is the injury-prone Danny Ings.

Tuttomercatoweb first reported Southampton’s interest in Atalanta striker Andrea Petagna at the end of June and rumours surrounding the 23-year-old striker continue to float around, though he is also a target for newly-promoted Wolves.

With four goals and five assists in Serie A last season, Petagna is hardly the most prolific striker but could present a decent option for Southampton.

(Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Sam Gallagher to Sheffield United or Blackburn

The Sun on Sunday (July 15, page 59) state both Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers are interested in the services of Southampton striker Sam Gallagher, who looks poised to leave if Mark Hughes secures a deal for a new forward.

22-year-old Gallagher previously enjoyed a successful loan stint with Blackburn in the season before last and has a total of 17 goals in 89 Championship appearances, 11 of which came for Blackburn in the 2016-17 campaign.

However, a deal for the two second-tier clubs could be difficult to negotiate on a permanent basis due to his reported £24k-a-week wages.

Iago Falque: Torino

Another forward target for Southampton, Tuttosport have named the Saints as one of numerous clubs interested in the services of Torino attacker Iago Falque alongside West Ham, Leicester, Sevilla and Valencia.

Now 28, the former Tottenham man has got his career back-on-track in Italian football and has become a crucial player for Torino, scoring 12 goals in 35 appearances last season – adding to the 12 he netted in the previous year on-loan in Turin from Roma.

Torino, understandably, do not want to lose the services of one of their top performers and it could take a considerable offer to begin negotiations with the Serie A side.

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Southampton

Three summer signings that would lead Southampton back into Europe

Mark Hughes needs to open his transfer kitty if the Saints are to return to Europe.

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Southampton
Photo: Getty Images

Southampton endured a difficult season in the Premier League last term and need to be active in the market this summer to bolster their ranks.

A turbulent campaign saw the Saints finish 17th, just three points above the relegation zone, which represents a huge decline in the past two seasons where Europa League football was secured.

Mark Hughes was a controversial appointment last term but he managed to steady the ship on the south coast and he now needs to utilise Southampton’s impressive strategy in the market, which has seen the Saints secure a number of bargain deals.

Southampton need to do the same again this summer, although they may be forced to spend big for some targets due to the rise in market prices.


“It’s important fresh faces come in. It’s not necessarily deliberate but as a consequence of players moving on, contracts finishing. There’s an opportunity to bring players in. There’s always a churn at the end of the year.”

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on the transfer window.


Jack Butland – Stoke City

Relegated with Stoke City last term, England international Jack Butland needs to be back in the Premier League if he is to knock Jordan Pickford off his perch as number one for the Three Lions.

While he has been linked with Chelsea and Liverpool, Southampton could be the ideal fit.

Now 25, Butland has plenty of years ahead of him and could enter the prime years of his career on the south coast – and a deal would suit Southampton’s transfer strategy as he would present tremendous sell-on value in the future.

There is no doubt that Butland will end up at a ‘big’ club eventually but Southampton should be the next step on his quest for stardom.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Marlon Santos – Barcelona

With West Ham seemingly ending their pursuit of Marlon Santos, Southampton have been left as the frontrunners to secure the services of the Barcelona outcast as they look to find a replacement for Virgil Van Dijk following his January switch to Liverpool.

Sport state the deal for the 22-year-old Brazil defender will cost just €13 million (£10.6m) and that presents another opportunity for Southampton to continue to earn financial stability by purchasing relatively low before selling for a high price.

After a successful stint on-loan in Ligue 1 with OGC Nice, Southampton would be wise to tempt Santos to switch the French Riviera for Hampshire.

(Photo by Valery Hache/Getty Images)

Andrea Petagna – Atlanta

It is no secret that Southampton desperately need a new striker and it seems the man they have in their sights is Italy forward Andrea Petagna, although Tuttomercatoweb claim newly-promoted Wolves also have the same idea.

Just 23, Petagna is another player who can be developed at St. Mary’s following a campaign where he scored six goals and contributed a further seven assists in Serie A for Atalanta. Already capped once by Italy in 2017, he could become a regular for his nation in the future.

Reportedly available for a measly sum of just £9m, Petagna could be the final piece to the puzzle in Southampton’s rejuvenated attacking line following the £16 million capture of Mohamed Elyounoussi.

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