Is this Southampton's best XI following transfer deadline day?
Southampton Football Club always tend to lose some of their stars in the transfer window, but somehow seem to recover just as well as ever. This window looks to be no different to that, with their midfield powerhouse Victor Wanyama making the move to Tottenham Hotspur – but they have replaced him, and also strengthened the squad.
The Saints also sold Sadio Mane to Liverpool for £34 million, but they have found another speedy winger who can slot straight in.
With Ronald Koeman departing for Everton, Claude Puel made the move to the Premier League after spending some time out in Ligue 1 with Nice, and Lyon before that. The 54-year-old fits Southampton’s style of play down to a tee, as he looks to play attractive, free-flowing football that pleases the fans.
This summer has been an excellent one on paper for the side based out on the South Coast. Nathan Redmond made the £11 million move from Norwich, and made instant impact by scoring on his debut. He is definitely an excellent signing, and it’s never going to be easy to fill Sadio Mane’s boots, but Redmond has the capabilities to do so.
Their most astute acquisition has to be Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich, who is an outstanding holding midfielder. The club also broke their transfer record on deadline day when they sanctioned £16 million to bring in Sofiane Boufal from Lille.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at their best eleven going forward.
In goal we have the reliable hands of Fraser Forster. The Englishman has played backup to Joe Hart for the Three Lions over the last few years, but now may be his chance to shine with Hart now out in Italy. At 28, he is approaching the peak of his powers, and he will certainly win Southampton points almost single-handedly this year.
The back four that Southampton have at their disposal is so underrated and filled with quality. We have Virgil van Dijk, and Jose Fonte. The former is tall, commanding, strong and a real threat in the air. His defensive attributes make him perfect for the physicality of the English league, and he’ll also chip in with a few goals. Jose Fonte brings that experience to the table, and Puel will be very pleased to keep hold of the Portugal international despite interest from Manchester United.
The midfield battle is so key for any success teams want to have in the Premier League. With big money available to all clubs this year thanks to an increase in TV revenue, this is an area that most sides seem to be investing in. Southampton are no different, and the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg may prove to be one of the best pieces of business we see this summer. He is excellent technically, will mop up the opposing mistakes and doesn’t shirk a tackle.
Next to him we have Jordy Clasie, the Dutch holding midfielder. The 25-year-old is an excellent partner for Hojbjerg in the middle. Despite also having the defensive abilities in his locker, Clasie possesses more of a threat in an offensive sense and will join in the attack where possible.
The Southampton front four makes you salivate if they are all on form and firing. The aforementioned Nathan Redmond is first up, and although he has been playing as a lone striker recently, he is much more at home out on the right-wing. On the opposite flank, the Saints boast Dusan Tadic, who is arguably one of the best in the country on his day. He possesses great flair, likes a goal, and is a threat from the dead ball situation.
Claude Puel obviously knows the French league well, and will be very familiar with Sofiane Boufal from when he faced the Morrocan whilst out managing in Ligue 1. The 22-year-old burst onto the scene last season, and didn’t look like giving up the starting job since. He is the perfect number ten who has pace, an eye for a pass and also adds a few goals.
In front of him, we have the tried and tested striker, Charlie Austin. Ronald Koeman brought in the Englishman from QPR in the January window and scored the winner on his debut against Manchester United. Since then, he’s had to settle for performances from off of the bench, but under Puel, he could really flourish.
Have a look at the full starting XI here:
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ian Johnson.