After an encouraging end to the season, Ralph Hasenhuttl now has some decisions to make.
Undoubtedly, Southampton’s form significantly picked up upon the Austrian taking charge as Tom Prentki writes in the Telegraph, but they will certainly need to freshen up to maintain or even improve on their upwards trajectory. Indeed, the last few years have been that bad for fans on the South Coast, who have watched their side fall from one of the most exciting projects in English football to relegation battlers.
To that end, one player the former RB Leipzig boss must decide on is Charlie Austin. After a report £4 million move from QPR via BBC Sport in January 2016, the former Swindon ace has largely failed to build on his once impressive reputation, one that saw him called up into the international scene by Roy Hodgson in 2015.
At the time, the Englishman looked a natural goalscorer in his first Premier League season with QPR, scoring an impressive 18 league goals and assisting another seven, and although the London club were eventually relegated that campaign, Austin appeared to be a striker who could score goals at the top level.
In fact, in his three-and-a-half Premier League seasons with Southampton since, Austin has just the 16 league goals in total. Injuries have indeed played their part, missing a whopping 26 games in the 2016/17 season and 18 the year after.
Obviously, he managed just 11 league starts last time out, 25 appearances in total, during which he scored a hugely unimpressive two goals, also assisting two. Shockingly, he also missed five big chances and averaged just 7.88 passes a game (via WhoScored), so it’s fair to say his involvement was limited. So, with a manager famed for his high-pressing, high-intensity tactics as emphasised by Total Football Analysis, it doesn’t appear to be an overly natural fit.
Where Austin failed to impress, though, others stood up and took their chances. Both Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse chipped in with their fair share of goals with nine and seven respectively.
At 29-years-old, Austin has a TransferMarkt valuation of £7.2 million, perhaps a reasonable sum for a player of such little significance in recent times. A sale of that amount would represent close to a 100% profit and would provide the Saints with some additional funds for a player who could actually compete.
With Aston Villa rumoured by the Sun to be interested in Austin earlier this month, the Saints could command the sort of fee the aforementioned analysts value him at, and it’d be decent business considering his impact on proceedings last season.
Southampton fans, would you keep persisting with Austin? Or is his time at the club now done? Comment below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!