Southampton: Prolific striker linked; midfielder's new role; Puel preparing for Premier League
At first glance, Southampton’s transfer window could be seen as something of a disaster so far. The departures of key players Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle are a serious problem on paper. Pelle and Mane are both in the Saints top 10 Premier League goal scorers of all time and Wanyama was the lynchpin of the midfield for three seasons.
Importantly for Saints, while three important players are gone, the considerable fees will doubtless be recouped into building Claude Puel’s new side.
A striker has emerged as a key target for Puel this window.According to the Croydon Advertiser, Southampton are joining the race for Sporting striker Islam Slimani alongside Crystal Palace, Everton and West Ham.
Slimani has long been a target for Premier League clubs, and is reported to have requested a transfer away from the Portuguese side.
The 28-year-old Algeria international is a prolific target man that is equally capable of bullying defenders with his physicality as he is of scoring goals.
Slimani has scored 56 goals in 107 appearances for Sporting in total and is coming off the back of his best season yet, netting 27 times in 33 games.
The striker is estimated to cost around £20 million, and in the current market, it could be a bargain in waiting.
Manager Claude Puel has reassured fans that he’s ready for the pressures of the English game in an interview with the Daily Echo.
“It’s important to have good physic, to repeat the runs and in every team now we can find very good players.” said Puel, 54. The difference is that every player can make the difference.”
The Frenchman also emphasised how impressed he was with the squad, indicating that they can doubtless compete in the coming season.
“I am lucky, I have good players, with good technique, very good spirit,” he said. “The players are generous, conscientious, they listen. They like to progress, to improve.”
He added that: “I have a profile also that is interesting for Southampton because I like to work with young players, a strategy and philosophy of game, Southampton and me enjoy to work together.”
The No. 10 role may not see the changes that many Saints fans believe necessary, after the new manager has revealed that he sees Dusan Tadic as the perfect fit.
He told the Daily Echo that: “Tadic is interesting in his position because he can turn and go quickly. “He can give good passes for the striker. I think it’s a good position for him.”
The 27 year-old proved most deadly for Southampton of the left wing last season, contributing seven goals and 12 assists from that position last season.
That being said, the freedom Tadic was afforded last season allowed him to float along the front three and roam into other forward areas, which could be evidence of his budding role as Southampton’s number 10.
So far though, Tadic has just one assist in three games from that position over the course of pre-season. Only time will tell if he develops into the role.
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