This summer has seen extraordinary and unprecedented scenes at St. Marys, which has led to the dismantlement of their highly regarded squad. At present six first team players have left the club this summer, with more departures a distinct possibility. Over £100 million has been made in transfer fees, but who has left and where does this leave Southampton?
Playing in League One in 2010, back-to-back promotion under Nigel Adkins saw Premier League football return to Saint Mary’s in 2012. The sacking of Nigel Adkins, in January 2013, was widely condemned at the time, but the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino proved to be a piece of inspired football business.
He secured a 14th place finish in the 2012/13 season, before leading the club to an impressive 8th place finish last season, with a record points haul for the club.
This success has come at price, with the Saint’s talented squad drawing admiring glances from other clubs in the Premier League. Pochettino himself has now left the club to become Tottenham manager and Ronald Koeman has been put in charge to oversee the mass exodus and the mammoth rebuilding task which has defined Southampton’s summer.
Rickie Lambert was the first out of the exit door, in what many would view as a surprising move to Liverpool. The 32-year-old striker left for Liverpool for a fee of £4 million and few Southampton fans would begrudge him for re-joining his boyhood club.
Since joining in 2009, Lambert scored 106 goals in 207 for the Saints and his goalscoring exploits continued in the Premier League; an impressive record which saw him secure a place in the England World Cup squad.
Lambert was followed to Liverpool by club captain Adam Lallana, for a reported £25 million fee – another faithful servant of the club who had risen through the youth ranks and had played a key role in their rise from League One. After playing for England at the World Cup, he wanted to pursue Champions League football and the opportunity to play against Europe’s elite.
At 26, after devoting the majority of his footballing career to the club, again few Saints fans would begrudge him a move to play a high standard of football, but he leaves a creative and leadership void in the midfield.
Dejan Lovren also left the club for Liverpool, for £20 million, after only one season at the club – another player claiming he needed Champions League football to further his career.
The day before Lallana left the club, Luke Shaw had joined Manchester United for a club record £27 million, making him the most expensive teenager in history. Not a bad deal for a defender who had made just 60 appearances for the first team. Widely seen as one of the brightest young talents in the game and displacing the experienced Ashley Cole from England’s World Cup squad, it was only a matter of time until he was prised away from the club.
Another defender out the door was Calum Chambers who left for Arsenal for an approximate £16 million. Another good deal for a 19 year old, with only 21 first team appearances to his name.
Striker Dani Osvaldo has also joined Inter Milan. The Italian striker has agreed terms, with a loan fee agreed plus a £6m permanent fee to follow. His move is not surprising following his training ground bust-up last season.
All deals have individually been good value for the club, but collectively they appear to make little sense and give off the appearance of a club in crisis.
As well as the confirmed departures, Morgan Schneiderlin continues to be linked with a move to Tottenham, to be reunited with ex-boss Pochettino.
Media reports state that his request for a move was turned down by the Saints hierarchy, only for him to publicly voice his anger by tweeting:
6 years of an amazing journey #saintsfc DESTROYED in 1 hour !!!
— Morgan Schneiderlin (@SchneiderlinMo4) July 29, 2014
It remains to be seen if the relationship can be repaired, but it appears likely that Schneiderlin will be leaving before deadline day.
Jay Rodriguez is also being linked with a move to Pochettino’s Spurs, but this transfer much surely hinge on his recovery from his serious knee injury that he suffered last season. Jose Fonte could also be set to move away from the club, but he seems to have put to bed these reports and appears to have pledged his future to the club.
New signings have arrived – Serbian midfielder Dušan Tadić, joined for a reported £10.9 million from Dutch side Twente. Tadić was followed by Italian striker Graziano Pellè, who signed from Feyenoord, and midfielder Saphir Taider has arrived from Inter Milan has part of the Osvaldo deal.
Koeman still has plenty of business to do and is running out of time to conclude it in. With over a £100 million now in the bank and with their famous youth academy still poised to churn out the next generation of players, maybe the future isn’t so dull for Southampton.
Next season though, survival and regrouping in the Premier League will be the new goal – not chasing European football as many Saints fans may have hoped.