Southampton supporters have been particularly downbeat in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side meekly lose 1-0 at home to Burnley over the weekend, in turn suffering their fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash with the Clarets unbeaten in three league matches, and would have been hoping for home comforts against Sean Dyche’s high-flying outfit on Saturday. However, they produced a lacklustre display and were duly punished as Sam Vokes headed home the winner nine minutes from time to seal a 1-0 victory for the Lancashire-based club, who in turn moved level on points with sixth place Arsenal and indeed fifth place Liverpool in the Premier League table, while at the same time instigating the Saints’ fall to 13th in the division.
Consequently, there have been many unhappy Southampton supporters gracing the Tavern this week, with some beginning to call into question Pellegrino’s capabilities in the role after seeing their team manage just nine goals in 11 league games so far this season.
Yet the Spaniard appears to be trying to do something about it as reports are linking the South Coast outfit with a move for Monaco outcast Stevan Jovetic, formerly of Inter Milan, Sevilla, and of course Manchester City.
The 28-year-old spent three years at the Etihad Stadium between 2013 and 2016, scoring 11 goals in 44 appearances for the Citizens, before sealing a loan move and then a permanent move to Inter, from whom he left to link up with Ligue 1 champions Monaco during the summer.
Yet just one goal in six games for Leonardo Jardim’s side has called into question his future at the Stade Louis II, and it’s uncertainty Southampton are seeking to exploit by reportedly lining up a move for the Montenegro international.
And were the Saints to move for Jovetic, that could well bring about the end of Shane Long’s time at St Mary’s.
The Republic of Ireland international has played 129 games for Southampton but has never really nailed down a starting role at the club, with just 70 of those coming as starts.
And having bagged only 25 goals in his three-year spell at St Mary’s, the 30-year-old possesses a conversion rate which simply isn’t going to get the South Coast side out of their current goal-scoring plight.
Yes, what Long brings to the field is slightly different to other forwards in that he possesses a relentless work-ethic and energy to defend from the front and chase down every ball, but that doesn’t equate to putting the ball in the back of the net – in ten league appearances this term, he hasn’t scored at all.
And given that Manolo Gabbiadini has shown glimpses of brilliance since moving from Napoli during the winter transfer window, and that Charlie Austin is a natural goal-scorer and one of the most prolific when fit, Long is already finding it tough to regularly break into Pellegrino’s starting eleven – he hasn’t started their last two Premier League matches.
Ultimately, Long isn’t the answer to their goal-scoring troubles. The 30-year-old will always put a shift in but that often doesn’t come with the goals required to win games for the Saints.
And were Jovetic to join the club in January, the Irishman will fall even further down the pecking order, and may be forced to move on, especially if he helps his club reach the World Cup in Russia next summer.
He’ll need minutes, and Jovetic’s arrival wouldn’t give him that gametime, so landing the Monaco forward would surely all but end Long’s time on the South Coast.
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