Southampton supporters have been pretty upbeat in recent times after seeing their team pick up their first victory of the Premier League season last weekend.
Mark Hughes’ men went into their encounter with Crystal Palace having picked up just one point from their opening three league games, drawing 0-0 at home to Burnley on the opening weekend before losing to both Everton and Leicester City. Yet the Saints finally recorded their first win of the campaign on Saturday as goals from Danny Ings and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg secured a 2-0 victory for the South Coast outfit at Selhurst Park, thus moving them up to 12th place in the division.
As such, there have been many thrilled Southampton fans up and down the country in recent times, with several somewhat pleased with the business their team conducted over the summer to try and plug areas of the squad in need of improvement.
And it was the departure of Virgil van Dijk during the January window which left the centre back ranks particularly short of quality, and while the Saints splashed out £18 million on Jannik Vestergaard, they missed a huge opportunity to land a bargain deal for Jonny Evans.
Ultimately, Netherlands international van Dijk has proven to be one of the best defenders in the Premier League since his move to St Mary’s back in 2015, thus prompting Liverpool to break the world record transfer fee for a defender by luring him to Anfield for £75 million.
As such, any side in the country would suffer greatly from losing a player of van Dijk’s ability, and while the arrival of Denmark international Vestergaard will go some way to plugging that gap, spending £18 million on a player who has never played in England is something of a risk.
Whereas that risk simply wouldn’t be there with centre back Evans, who was available for just £3.5 million during the close season following the relegation of West Brom last term, a fee Leicester quickly moved to pay to lure him to the King Power Stadium.
The 30-year-old has proven to be a hugely accomplished Premier League defender over the years, be it at Manchester United and West Brom, with the Northern Ireland international one of a few shining lights in the Baggies’ disastrous campaign last time round.
In fact, both Arsenal and Manchester City were linked with a move for the centre back in January to underline just how highly rated the centre back is at top-flight level, and as such how ideal he would have been for Southampton as they sought to replace van Dijk.
As such, while Vestergaard could well go on to be a great defender for the Saints, they appear to have missed a huge opportunity over the summer in sealing a bargain deal for Evans.
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