Southampton supporters in the Transfer Tavern are looking forward to the 2018/19 Premier League season following the news that Mark Hughes has penned a long-term deal to remain the club’s manager.
The 54-year-old took over at St Mary’s back in March following the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino, and was tasked with trying to keep the South Coast outfit in the top tier given the mess Pellegrino had overseen prior to his arrival. And while it was tough for the ex-Stoke City chief, he did just that by leading the team to vital victories over Bournemouth and Swansea City to eventually finish 17th in the Premier League table, three points clear of the bottom three.
As such, there are many positive and expectant Saints fans in the Tavern at present, several of whom are unlikely to be overly thrilled by recent reports suggesting that target James Maddison is closing in on a move to fellow Premier League side Leicester City.
Thus, with a deal for Maddison unlikely, Southampton must now turn their attentions to landing £4.5 million-rated sensation Jack Grealish (as per Transfermarkt), what with their attacking ranks in dire need of fresh impetus.
Ultimately, while the Saints were reasonably solid defensively last season and did a decent job in the middle of the park, the forward department were severely lacking in quality in netting just 37 goals in their 38 Premier League matches.
Striker Charlie Austin, who appeared just 24 times in the league, and Dusan Tadic finished as their top scorers with a mere seven goals over the course of the campaign, with the likes of Sofiane Boufal and Nathan Redmond, to name but a few, failing to live up to expectations.
Thus, if Hughes is to take the club forward this season, he has to improve the attacking ranks, and Grealish’s arrival would certainly do just that after he enjoyed a fine campaign at Championship side Aston Villa last time round.
The 22-year-old may have finished the campaign with slightly underwhelming figures of three goals and six assists for Steve Bruce’s side, but the Englishman proved to be a constant threat for the Villans over the course of the season, and showed a maturity that hadn’t always been seen in his young career to date.
Clearly, there is a reason why Tottenham are reportedly keen on landing the young attacker this summer, as not only would Grealish be a signing for the present, but he’d also be an investment in the future. And with Villa struggling financially, the Saints will surely fancy their chances of sealing a deal.
Yes, Maddison was one of the standout players in the second tier last season, and as such failure to land him will surely come as a blow to Southampton, but they cannot dwell too greatly on that disappointment, as standing still this summer would see the Saints in a relegation battle once again next season.
Thus, with a deal for Maddison unlikely, the Saints must now seek to lure Grealish away from cash-strapped Villa during the close season.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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