Jannik Vestergaard’s arrival alongside Mohamed Elyounoussi, Stuart Armstrong and Angus Gunn signings show that Mark Hughes’ side shouldn’t be down the back end of the table again.
Southampton finished just three points and one place adrift from the relegation zone last season. A feat they won’t want to repeat come the 2018/19 season. The quad of new arrivals total £54m so it’s clear that Virgil van Dijk’s transfer fee is adequately being reinvested in a make-over of the side and a true replacement for the departed Dutchman.
Angus Gunn will be wanting to overthrow Fraser Forster as the Saints’ number one. Gunn has learnt his craft at Manchester City where has he been touted as a future England number one if his rise to stardom can be sustained. The 22-year-old displayed fine reflex saves and shot-stopping ability during his 43 games for Norwich last season.
Vestergaard, aged 25, will soon be coming into his prime so his arrival comes at a time when defensive solidity is in dying need. The Dane has somewhat surprisingly made more tackles than Van Dijk on average, 1.8 compared to 0.9, and has made more blocks, 1.2 compared to 0.6. Although the Dutchman has made more interceptions, 0.5 more than Vestergaard on average, considering the former is lauded as one of the most complete centre-backs, the latter isn’t far off.
The middle of the park is Southampton’s strong point with a combination of midfield powerhouses, box-to-box midfielders and technical expertise. Armstrong falls into the latter of the categories but has the ability to carry the ball forward and will surely increase the support for the struggling forwards of last season.
Elyounoussi could possibly be Hughes’ most exciting signing as of yet. The Norwegian bagged 13 goals from outside last season, with his attacking output able to take some of the reliance off the strikers to score.
All four signings may be largely different players but they can all contribute to helping Southampton in getting back into the top half of the table once again. Les Reed has invoked the ire of Saints fans over the last few months, though has certainly moved to address any lingering problems this summer.