According to a recent report from Aydin Post (via The Leicester Mercury), Southampton are interested in a January move for Islam Slimani. The 29-year-old currently plays his football in Turkey with Fenerbahce on loan from Premier League outfit Leicester City, but struggles in front of goal in the Super Lig has cast doubts about whether he will remain at the Turkish giants for the rest of the season.
And a recent report from Aydin Post (via The Leicester Mercury) suggests that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints are eyeing up a move for the £9 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt) this month, who could represent the final piece in Hasenhuttl’s survival jigsaw at St Mary’s.
Ultimately, things have certainly improved at Southampton following the arrival of Hasenhuttl back in December, with the Saints having won their last two Premier League matches to pull clear of the bottom three and up to the dizzy heights of 15th place in the table.
However, there is still plenty of work to be done for the South Coast outfit if they are to remain a top-flight club come the end of the season, and improvements to the striking department appear necessary following the departure of Manolo Gabbiadini to Sampdoria earlier this month.
Danny Ings aside, who has netted eight times in all competitions for Southampton this season, the forward options simply haven’t produced the goods this term given Charlie Austin, Shane Long, Sam Gallagher, and Michael Obafemi have scored just four times between them this term – that simply isn’t going to get the job done.
And while Hasenhuttl appears to be a fan of Long’s tenacity and work-rate up top, the injury concerns that always linger around Austin, and are very much there with Obafemi at present, suggest that another option, someone slightly different to what they have already got, could prove vital in their quest to move clear of danger – Slimani is that man.
Yes, the 30-year-old may have endured testing spells at both Fenerbahce and indeed Newcastle United in recent seasons, but one mustn’t forget the bags of goals he netted at Sporting Lisbon earlier in his career to thus earn a move to Leicester City, where his goal-record also isn’t as bad as some have made it out to be.
The Algeria international, capped 59 times by his country over the years, netted 57 goals in just 111 appearances for Portuguese giants Sporting between 2013 and 2016, 31 of which coming in his last season in the Primeira Liga, while he has scored 13 goals in 46 games for Leicester since arriving in England as well – overall, they are pretty healthy returns.
Thus, not only would Slimani bolster the goal-threat Southampton carry in the final third, but he’d also add another dimension to the Saints’ play given he is strong and has a great aerial presence – unlike the other options at Hasenhuttl’s disposal, the 30-year-old is more of a target man who can hold the ball up and bring others into play.
And that is a great option to have for any side in the division let alone one fighting for survival near the bottom – he may not be a regular first teamer at St Mary’s, but he’d certainly give the Austrian another accomplished option in the final third.
And with Hasenhuttl very much doing a fine job in moving Southampton away from the bottom three, adding Slimani this month might well be the final piece in his survival jigsaw.
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