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Southampton round-up: Benali discusses Van Dijk situation; Oxlade-Chamberlain profit; Targett loan collapses

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Southampton

Southampton legend Franny Benali has spoken out regarding the future of Virgil van Dijk, after the transfer window closed without him moving away from the south coast club despite a transfer request. The former full-back told the Southampton Daily Echo:

“Why not try and pursue his ambition at Southampton?… Saints could be looking at £80m-plus. It will be a decision for the club to take but I’m pleased with the stance they have taken and would like to see him remain a Saints player as long as possible. He’s an absolute top class, and I would go as far as to say world-class, player. There’s been a lot of talk about him going to some big clubs in this country but in my opinion he could easily go to a Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG, anywhere in the world, he’s that good.”

Benali clearly feels that Van Dijk’s failure to move on could actually prove to be the best result for both parties. How Mauricio Pellegrino will reintegrate the central defender remains to be seen, but it could be a big ask for the newly appointed manager after a disappointing start to the season.

The club did benefit from transfer deadline day though, as they netted an impressive £2.3 million from Arsenal‘s sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool. That’s according to the Southampton Daily Echo, who believe that then chairman Nicola Cortese insisted on the clause when the England international was sold in 2011.

The 24-year-old was a promising talent even when he was at Saint Mary’s in League One, making 43 appearances, with 41 of them coming in his breakthrough season in 2010/11, scoring 10 goals in the process.

Another youngster hoping to follow in his footsteps and make a breakthrough is left-back Matthew Targett. He was strongly linked with a loan move to Newcastle United on deadline day, but journalist Daniel Storey says that the Magpies refused to shell out a loan fee for the defender.

However, there were conflicting reports from Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie who instead claimed that Targett only wanted a six month loan deal, whereas Newcastle would only take him on loan for the season.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Southampton

Southampton can’t afford to lose Dusan Tadic after reports of Ajax agreement

Mark Hughes simply cannot let this reported move materialise.

Jamie Watts

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Southampton play-maker Dusan Tadic has allegedly agreed terms with Ajax, with the Dutch giants said to be willing to trigger his £15 million release clause this summer, according to reports from Dutch outlet De Telegraaf. But his current side should do all they can to scupper the deal.

The 29-year-old has become the Saints’ most creative addition, since arriving from the Eredivisie in 2014, acting as the team’s catalyst to build attacks with his technical quality and experience over his 162 appearances for the club.

Despite not having a prolific 2017/18 campaign, the Serbian international notched a respectable six goals and three assists, and Ajax are now keen to add him to their ranks after failing to win their domestic league for the fourth consecutive season.

Photo: Getty Images

But currently, Mark Hughes really isn’t in a position to be releasing players of Tadic’s quality, notably when a lack of creativity in the final third was undoubtedly the side’s biggest weakness. The Saints created more chances than anyone outside of the top six, yet were 15th for number of goals scored, as the final pass or finish was constantly lacking.

Take Tadic out of the equation and the team could have serious problems, as the majority of midfielders at the club are more focused on defensive duties, and are lacking in offensive quality.

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Southampton

Mark Hughes interested in reunion with Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron

Mark Hughes interested in bringing the experienced defender to St. Mary’s

Luke Beaumont

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Cameron
Photo: Getty Images

According to a Stoke Sentinel report, former Stoke City boss Mark Hughes wants Geoff Cameron to reunite with him at Southampton.

Cameron, who turns 33 next month, was brought to Stoke by Tony Pulis in 2012 following a four-year stint with Major League Soccer side Houston Dynamo.

He thrived under the leadership of Hughes, becoming a versatile and influential player for the Potters in the Premier League.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It is suggested that Cameron’s current deal includes a release clause in excess of £5 million, and Stoke will want to receive that figure if he is to leave the Bet365 stadium this summer.

Cameron is currently unsure whether he has a future at Stoke under Gary Rowett, so he will be hoping to find out when he returns to training next week.

It isn’t a secret that the Stoke boss is a fan of the player, however, heis trying to reduce the overall age of the squad following the club’s relegation from the Premier League but has stated there is room for some of the aging contingent which might include Cameron.

The American defender is highly thought of in his native country and a return to Major League Soccer has been rumoured. Championship clubs are also thought to be monitoring the situation.

The prospect of remaining in the Premier League and reuniting with Mark Hughes might be a huge factor if he decides to stay in England and finds himself out of favour with Stoke City’s promotion-chasing group.

With 149 Premier League starts to his name, there’s no doubt Cameron would add experience and valuable depth to Southampton’s defence.

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Xherdan Shaqiri should join Southampton and continue in his best role

The Swiss international is wanted by a number of clubs, including Southampton.

Mathew Nash

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It looks as though Xherdan Shaqiri will be on the move this summer. The Swiss star suffered relegation with Stoke City last season and is not prepared to play in the Championship. The news he could be on his way has attracted plenty of attention, with the latest reports suggesting it is Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton who are leading the race for his signature.

The Mirror reported this week that both Spurs and Southampton are keen on activating his bargain release clause of £12 million this summer.

The lure of playing for Spurs will no doubt be a feature for Shaqiri. They can offer the Champions League football he probably craves.

But he should choose Southampton instead.

Why? Here’s why?

Shaqiri thrives as a big fish in a smaller pond. During his time at hometown club FC Basel he was unstoppable and at Stoke he has been in similar form. With regular football and responsibility the 26-year-old thrives and can but in match-winning performances.

(Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

In the past, when playing for the bigger sides, he has found himself lost. At Bayern Munich he played a substitute role for his three seasons in Bavaria. Once he had enough of that, he headed to Inter Milan – another European giant.

Rightly so. In terms of talent, Shaqiri is good enough for such teams. However, again he found himself a bit-part player at the San Siro, coming off the bench more than he started.

The fact is Shaqiri is something of a luxury player and, if a team is not built around him, he does not thrive.

Southampton would automatically make him the star of their team. With the presence of his former Stoke boss Mark Hughes also a factor, then Southampton is obviously the best choice for the mercurial attacker.

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