Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez are close to joining former manager Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur and join the Southampton exodus that has seen last season’s team stripped down almost completely.
The Saints are near unrecognisable from the side that was the surprise package in the Premier League last season, finishing 8th and producing some of the players of the season in Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez. All these players though, have now left the club for pastures new.
Manager Pochettino was the first to leave as he joined Spurs soon after the completion of the season. Shaw was then sold to Manchester United for around 27 million pounds before Lallana and Lambert joined Liverpool for 25 million and 4 million respectively. The Saints were dealt a couple more blows in the past couple of days when Dejan Lovren joined Lallana and Lambert at Anfield while promising young right-back Calum Chambers signed for Arsenal.
The following chart shows the players that have left St.Mary’s thus far, the teams that have signed them and the amounts Southampton have earned from the sale.
New manager Ronald Koeman faces a huge task in restructuring the side and replicating the success of the last campaign. Things are going to get tougher, it seems, as Schneiderlin and Rodriguez close in on the exit door.
Rodriguez was an absolute revelation, not just for Southampton, but for the Premier League as a whole. He scored 15 times, becoming the focal point up front and keeping Lambert out of the side at times. His impressive performances saw him earn a call-up to the English national side and had it not been for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, he would have surely been on the plane to Brazil.
Schneiderlin, on the other hand, has been an integral part of the side ever since joining from Strasbourg in 2008. He was the main man in midfield when Southampton earned back-to-back promotions to the Premier League and then not only retained but also enhanced his reputation, in the top-flight.
Tottenham were terribly inconsistent last year, something Pochettino will be looking to change as he leads the club on its quest for Champions League football. Club-record signing Roberto Soldado didn’t deliver as expected, scoring just twice from open play all season. Rodriguez will provide a new dimension to Spurs’ attack, as he can play both on his own as well as alongside Emmanuel Adebayor.
Southampton manager Koeman, on the other hand, has it all to do. He has signed two players – Dusan Tadic from FC Twente and Graziano Pelle from his former side Feyenoord. Also on his target list is the Arsenal duo of Emmanuel Frimpong and Carl Jenkinson. Were he able to complete the signings of Frimpong and Jenkinson, it would mean that he has replenished every area in which he has lost players. And with Southampton’s Youth Academy being one of the best in the whole Premier League, he may not have to look to far for reinforcements.
Whether these players can perform as well as the players who have left though, remains to be seen. Last season, Southampton had the element of surprise about them. This time around, teams will be better prepared whilst facing them. It is therefore, imperative that Koeman’s men get off to a good start. If they don’t, they may well end up in a relegation battle this season.