The optimism amongst the Southampton fans in the Transfer Tavern has dramatically increased this week since their FA Cup quarter-final victory over Wigan Athletic.
Following a hectic week for Southampton in which Mauricio Pellegrino was replaced by Mark Hughes with just 8 Premier League fixtures left to play, The Saints managed to secure their place in the semi-final of the FA Cup and inject some confidence back into the club which has been in free-fall for quite some time. Hughes’ instant impact certainly delighted the supporters, but they are fully aware that their toughest task lies within their bid to avoid relegation this season, so they are refusing to get carried away by their cup victory.
Due to the nature of the quick-fire appointment, Hughes’ contract is only a short-term deal which will expire in June once the season has been completed, but that has not stopped him from keeping one eye on the upcoming summer transfer window.
Hughes’ priority will be to secure Southampton’s top-flight status this season, and if he manages to achieve this it seems likely that the club would be inclined to offer him a long-term contract. If that proves to be the case, then Hughes will make a bid to sign Joe Allen (valued at £16.2 million by Transfermarkt) from Stoke City in the summer transfer window according to The Daily Mirror (Via HITC).
Hughes has previously worked alongside Joe Allen at Stoke, so his interest in the highly-regarded Welsh midfielder is hardly surprising. Prising Allen away from the Potters will not be an easy task, but if they are relegated then they will surely be forced to allow him to leave if a Premier League club comes calling.
Providing that Southampton stay in the top-flight, Hughes should make a bid to sign Allen in the summer as he could be a perfect midfield partner for Mario Lemina. As things stand, Lemina is the club’s most consistent central-midfielder, but his partners have often let him down so far this season.
Lemina plays in a defensive-midfield position in-front of the defence, so it makes sense for Southampton to play a ball-playing, creative midfielder alongside him such as Allen to effectively balance the midfield. Allen’s energy and determination combined with his natural play-making ability make him a perfect candidate to compliment Lemina’s defensive qualities and form a formidable partnership at the heart of Southampton’s midfield.
Oriel Romeu is too similar to Lemina to play alongside him on a regular basis, and Hojbjerg is still a young player with plenty to prove in English football, so Hughes should do everything he can to bring Allen to Southampton this summer if he manages to steer the club to safety in the final weeks of the season.