Southampton supporters were left underwhelmed once again by their side over the weekend after seeing the South Coast outfit go down 1-0 at home to Burnley, in turn suffering a fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men did go into their clash with the Lancashire-based club unbeaten in three league matches, and they would have hoped for home comforts against the Clarets on Saturday. However, they were unable to record a fourth league victory of the season as a Sam Vokes header nine minutes from time was enough to secure all three points for Sean Dyche’s side, who remain level on points with fifth place Liverpool in the Premier League table, while the Saints slipped to 13th.
Thus, there has been a lot of frustrated Southampton fans in the Tavern in recent days with many beginning to question manager Pellegrino and his capabilities for the role, what with the Saints having scored just nine goals in their opening 11 league games.
And although the international break is upon us, there is something for those Saints supporters lining up at the bar to discuss, namely some recent comments from defender Virgil van Dijk, who has confirmed that he is committed to the club despite seeking a move away during the summer window.
The 26-year-old handed in a transfer request back in August to force through a move to Liverpool, and although he remained at St Mary’s beyond the deadline, he in October admitted that he was still hopeful of a January deal.
Yet the Dutchman has changed his tact completely by underlining his commitment to the South Coast outfit, although it shouldn’t make any difference as the Saints should look to cash in on the centre-back anyway in January.
And that’s because the money they are likely to receive for the £27 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt) can be spent in other areas of the squad, and although he has come out and pledged his commitment, Southampton fans are unlikely to forget the summer.
Ultimately, the 26-year-old made it clear that he didn’t want to be at St Mary’s any longer, despite only moving there back in 2015, and missing the second half of last season with injury – handing in a transfer request is as good an indication as any to his motivations.
And Southampton supporters aren’t going to forget that in a hurry, as it is their football club that he has shown disregard for and disrespected during the process.
And when one considers that van Dijk, albeit having come back from injury, hasn’t exactly set the world alight since returning to the team in the last five matches, one wonders whether the commitment is there to help the Saints keep clean sheets and win games of football.
And if there is any doubt at all about his commitment to the cause, the Saints should sell in January, especially as the fee they are likely to command will be substantial, and thus could be reinvested in the attacking areas of the squad, as that is the department in need of reinforcements.
Nine goals from just 11 Premier League games is a poor return for a club that have recorded four successive top half finishes, and that will ultimately have to improve if there are to avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight come the second half of the campaign.
And with the likes of Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens, and summer signing Wesley Hoedt, losing van Dijk wouldn’t be the end of the world as all three have proven their credentials at this level – the former two struck up a fine partnership last term in the Dutchman’s absence.
Ultimately, van Dijk may well have come out and pledged his commitment to Southampton, but fans aren’t going to forget his antics during the summer, and indeed his comments back in October – even if he weren’t to go in January, who says he won’t seek a move again in the summer?
And given that defensively isn’t the Saints’ biggest issue, the money they could get for van Dijk could indeed allow Pellegrino to bring in a couple of quality additions to his forward ranks – that might help them move up the table, and indeed keep the manager himself in a job.
Thus, selling the Dutchman in January is the way to go for the Southampton hierarchy.
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