“We are determined to keep our best young players at the club”.
That was Les Reed’s comment after Calum Chambers’ departure to Arsenal earlier today. So far this window the Saints have sold Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren as well as Chambers, whilst Dani Osvaldo, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez are expected to follow. Reed’s continued delusion has angered fans, after previously stating that ‘no players would be sold’ after the sales of Shaw, Lallana and Lambert. But is there really a crisis at St Mary’s, or has the number of sales led to an over-reaction from fans and press alike?
Firstly, if you look at the prices of the players that have been sold, could you really argue with any of the sales? Adam Lallana for £25 million, Shaw becoming the world’s most expensive defender at over £30 million, Lovren for £20 million, more than twice the money that Saints paid for him last summer. £16 million for a second choice right back would be considered a transfer masterstroke in isolation, and too be brutally honest, although he is very good, he isn’t a sure thing to become a top defender. So Saints have brought in about £94 million from players that cost the club £9.5 million.
By this logic, it would seem that the time to judge the board would be at the beginning of the season, not three weeks before. Ronald Koeman has been told that he will be able to reinvest the money brought in, so Saints fans will be seeing some new players coming in in the coming weeks. But from the two signings so far, is there any light for the fans? Graziano Pelle is unproven in a top league, and Dusan Tadic hasn’t played in a top league either. Nathan Redmond, Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk are exciting potential targets, but links with players such as Leroy Fer and other Eredivisie graduates will be far from welcome.
One potential positive of these sales is that some more bright young players may get a chance in the first team. It appears Harrison Reed is close to breaking in to the first team, whilst James Ward-Prowse might be able to secure a first team place. At the back, Jack Stephens and Matt Targett could be in and around the squad, whilst Sam Gallagher will again see plenty of first team action.
There really is no crisis at Southampton, but the fans are well within their rights to be angry at the board for their lack of transparency and that they have just lied to the fans as if they just don’t matter. There are rational reasons why all of those players have been sold, and the club must be working on some incoming transfers behind the scenes.