Southampton supporters have been in high spirits in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their team reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2003 courtesy of a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
The South Coast outfit got past Fulham, Watford, and West Brom to reach the last eight of the world’s oldest club competition, thus providing much-needed respite for our resident Saints fans given their side’s woeful Premier League form. And Mark Hughes’ men kept the cup run going on Sunday as goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares saw off Paul Cook’s giant-killers Wigan, thus earning Southampton a last four clash with Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley next month.
Consequently, there have been many delighted Saints supporters in the Tavern in recent times, several of whom are daring to dream about a possible FA Cup success this term, what with it 42 years since their one and only triumph in the competition.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Southampton fans to get their teeth into, not least recent reports linking several Serie A clubs with a move for striker Manolo Gabbiadini this summer.
And while the Italy international hasn’t been at this best this term, there’s only one striker the South Coast club should be selling this summer, and that’s Republic of Ireland international Shane Long.
Ultimately, Southampton’s biggest issue this season has been their lack of goals from the frontmen, with Charlie Austin, who has played just 16 Premier League games this season, netting more (six) than any other player in the squad.
And while Long adds a different dimension to the attacking ranks, namely the tenacity and relentless work-rate to lead from the front, he simply isn’t the goal-scorer the Saints need to pull the out of trouble and start moving up the division.
And with Austin’s injury record clear for all to see, Hughes’ side simply cannot rely on the Englishman to get the goals – when he’s fit, he will score, but he’s too often sat on the sidelines with an injury. Thus, others need to step up, and Long simply hasn’t.
Yes, Gabbiadini has hardly pulled down trees this season, but his start to life at Southampton back in January 2017, alongside his four goals in the Premier League this term, suggests that there is striking quality there that can be unlocked and utilised, whereas it’s difficult to say the same regarding Long.
At 31 years of age, it’s arguable that the Irishman’s best days are behind him, and with the Saints receiving a bit of a ‘wake-up’ call this season after four successive top-ten finishes, they may look to alter their transfer policy come the summer to make sure another campaign like this one doesn’t happen again.
As such, many players could be on their way out of St Mary’s, yet Gabbiadini shouldn’t be one of them as the Italian does have plenty to offer in the final third, and seemingly much more than Long.
Subsequently, there’s only one striker Southampton should be selling this summer, and it’s former Reading and West Brom forward Long as opposed to Gabbiadini.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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