Back in the summer transfer window of 2014, Southampton sealed a deal to bring striker Graziano Pelle to St Mary’s.
The striker had been playing his football at Dutch giants Feyenoord in the two years prior to his move to the Premier League club, in which time he bagged a stunning 50 goals in 57 games for the Eredivisie outfit, all of which coming under the stewardship of Ronald Koeman.
And the former Barcelona defender then sought to reunite with Pelle at Southampton by securing a £8 million deal for the 33-year-old, a move which sent several Saints supporters on Twitter into raptures…
We must be fair to Pelle. He is not ‘here to replace Rickie Lambert’. He is here to lead the next chapter of the #saintsfc evolution!
— Ben Stanfield (@BenStanners) July 12, 2014
— Ruth Alice Pollock (@RuthiePollock) July 12, 2014
— Matthew Park (@MattPark182) July 12, 2014
— Thomas (@thomasb2708) July 12, 2014
— Terry Bone (@WINTONION) July 12, 2014
— Penny C (@pennysaintsfc) July 12, 2014
— Yash. (@YashayyM) July 12, 2014
— Darren Wardell (@DarrenWardell) July 12, 2014
— KK (@LegohairHead) July 12, 2014
And with the South Coast outfit having lost several of their key stars in the summer of 2014, Pelle’s arrival gave supporters something to cheer about at the time, and indeed throughout the remainder of his time at Southampton.
Ultimately, the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, and Rickie Lambert, to name but a few, left St Mary’s that summer to leave new manager Koeman with much work to do to improve a squad that finished eighth under Mauricio Pochettino the season before.
And striker Pelle was one answer the Dutchman had to his flagging forward ranks following the exit of Lambert to Liverpool, and what a decision it turned out to be given the 33-year-old excelled throughout his time on the South Coast.
In his first season at the club, the Italy international took little to time to adapt in netting 12 goals in 38 league appearances for the Saints, with his tally of 16 goals in all competitions seeing him finish the campaign as the club’s top-scorer, ending up six clear of second place Sadio Mane.
And the 33-year-old continued to produce the goods the season after by netting 11 times in their run to sixth place in the Premier League, but what was significant was that he also laid on seven assists to suggest that he had more to his game than just goals – he was a creator as well.
And it was during his time at Southampton in which Pelle became a regular for his country, netting eight goals in 18 caps in 2015 and 2016, including the winner in a 1-0 friendly success over England back in March 2015.
Overall, Pelle was absolutely magnificent for Southampton during his two seasons at the club to underline that Koeman knew exactly what he was doing in the transfer window – but when Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng came calling to make him the fifth-highest paid player in the world, it was always going to be difficult to convince him of staying at St Mary’s.
Nonetheless, those Saints fans thrilled with the club’s acquisition of Pelle were certainly proven right in the years that followed – it was undoubtedly a Koeman masterstroke.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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