Southampton supporters have been pretty downbeat in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their team only muster a 0-0 draw at home with fellow Premier League relegation contenders Stoke City on Saturday, although it did keep the Saints out of the bottom three.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their encounter with the Staffordshire-based outfit off the back of drawing 1-1 with Burnley in their preceding league encounter, which was a decent response to their 2-0 loss against Liverpool the fortnight before. Yet the South Coast club were unable to record a much-needed fourth home league victory of the campaign on Saturday as they were held by Paul Lambert’s Potters, thus leaving Pellegrino’s side just a point and a place above the Premier League’s relegation zone with nine games to go.
Subsequently, there have been many frustrated Southampton fans in the Tavern this week, several of whom are sincerely hoping that their team can pick up the vital victories between now and the end of the season to secure their top-flight status.
Yet many of our resident Saints supporters are already looking ahead to the summer and what business their side must do if they remain in the Premier League, and there is one name on the lips of several of those Southampton fans lining up at the bar, Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri.
The 26-year-old made the move to the bet365 Stadium back in 2015 after a short time at Inter Milan, and has since gone on to prove his worth with 14 goals and 14 assists in 83 appearances for the Potters.
And while those aren’t ground-breaking figures, this season has been the Switzerland international’s most impressive yet with seven goals and six assists in 27 Premier League games – one senses that his form between now and the end of the season will play a big part in whether Stoke stay up or not.
But it’s the forward’s ability to conjure up something out of nothing which must be of interest to Pellegrino and Southampton, as that ability to win a game from very little is something one needs in the Premier League, and something they simply haven’t had so far this season.
The Saints have mustered just 29 Premier League goals so far and six of those have come from Charlie Austin, who has missed a large chunk of the campaign due to injury – clearly, they cannot continue to rely on the Englishman’s contributions.
Thus, Shaqiri has managed more goals this season than any Southampton player, and while he is known for sometimes going missing in games, there is always that chance that he could come up with a moment of magic. And Southampton will need that next season if they are to move to the next level.
Ultimately, while things haven’t been great for the Saints this term, the division is so close that they are just 12 points adrift of Burnley in seventh – the possibility of European football isn’t that far away, and could be attained if they invest wisely over the summer.
And with Shaqiri possessing that star quality which can win those tight matches, the sort of which Southampton have been involved in often this term, he is the sort of addition they must strive to make during the close season.
As such, the South Coast outfit simply must seek to raid Stoke for their £16.2 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) if the Potters go down this season.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!