Southampton supporters have been in high spirits in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their team book their place in the last four of the FA Cup courtesy of a hard-fought 2-0 success over League One high-flyers Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
The South Coast outfit got past Fulham, Watford, and West Brom to reach the quarter-finals of the world’s oldest club cup competition, which has given our resident Saints fans some respite given their woeful Premier League form. Yet Mark Hughes’ men reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2003 on Sunday as goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares secured the win over Paul Cook’s Wigan, thus earning Southampton a clash with Chelsea at Wembley next month.
As such, there have been many thrilled Saints fans in the Tavern in recent times, several of whom are sincerely hoping that their team’s excellent cup run can rub off on their league form, and thus pull them clear of the relegation zone in the final eight games of the campaign.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Southampton supporters to discuss, not least recent reports linking them with a move for Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen this summer.
And while the Wales international would be a useful addition to the Saints squad, they should forget about the 28-year-old, and instead focus their efforts on luring his Stoke teammate Jack Butland to St Mary’s this summer.
Ultimately, the midfield ranks are pretty well-stocked at Southampton at present, with the likes of Mario Lemina, Oriol Romeu, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and James Ward-Prowse all plenty good enough at Premier League level, to the point that they have all been used reasonably often over the course of the campaign.
And with Steven Davis also occasionally featuring for the Saints, Hughes doesn’t necessarily need to bolster his central midfield department this summer – in fact, it is arguably the strongest area of the squad, and as such there are other more pressing concerns that need addressing.
And one of those is the goalkeeping department, as number one Fraser Forster has endured a testing year between the sticks at Southampton, to the point that the England international has been dropped from the starting eleven since Boxing Day in favour of Alex McCarthy.
And while his compatriot McCarthy has done well since being drafted in for their 0-0 draw with Manchester United back in December, question marks remain over his long-term capability to fill the void and become the club’s number one shot-stopper.
Such doubts do not remain though regarding Butland’s ability, as the 25-year-old has been in fine form for Stoke this term, and looks set to have a big say in whether they stay in the Premier League this season.
In fact, Saints fans would have seen first-hand how good the England international is as he made several great saves to preserve a point for Paul Lambert’s men from their trip to St Mary’s last month, and while he has made some errors this term, there’s little doubting that he is developing into a very good goalkeeper.
Were Stoke to indeed go down this season, Butland would without doubt be in-demand over the summer, but the promise of first team football at Southampton could convince the 25-year-old against a possible move to some of the biggest clubs in the division, many of whom already have their number one goalkeepers sorted.
Thus, the need for a more reliable number one alongside their already-stocked midfield options should convince Hughes against a move for Allen, as his £16.2 million-rated Stoke teammate Butland (as per Transfermarkt) would be a better and more important signing for Southampton this summer.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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