Southampton supporters in the Transfer Tavern are very much looking forward to the remainder of the summer transfer window following the news that Mark Hughes has signed a long-term deal to remain the club’s manager.
The former Stoke City chief took over at St Mary’s back in March following the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino, and was thus intrusted with the tricky job of steering the Saints clear of Premier League relegation. And the 54-year-old did just that by leading the side to key victories over Bournemouth and Swansea City to eventually finish in 17th place in the table, three points clear of the relegated Swans.
As such, there are many expectant Southampton fans in the Tavern at present, and they are likely to be further intrigued and excited by recent reports linking them with a move for Lazio winger Felipe Anderson.
And were the Saints to indeed beat the likes of Leicester City and West Ham to the £22.5 million-rated (as per Transfermarkt) star’s signature this summer, it would be a huge coup for Hughes’ side ahead of the new season.
Ultimately, the 2017/18 campaign was a big struggle for Southampton and their supporters, with it arguable that the Saints were fortunate to remain in the top-flight given how poor they were for the vast majority of the campaign.
However, one mustn’t forget that this was a club that, prior to this term, has secured four successive top ten finishes in the Premier League, and as such one would expect them to pull clear of danger next term and perhaps re-establish themselves as one of the best of those outside the top six.
And were they to beat both Leicester, who finished ninth and 11 points ahead of the Saints, and West Ham, who finished 13th and six points clear of the Saints, it would underline the ambition the club have in trying to return to the top half of the Premier League, as well as the anomaly that is the 2017/18 season.
Clearly, it was the attacking ranks that let the South Coast outfit down this season, with the likes of Nathan Redmond, Sofiane Boufal, and Dusan Tadic, among others, failing to consistently produce the goods in the final third – their tally of 37 goals scored was fewer than all but one side who finished in the top half.
And if they seek to make the top ten next term, that figure simply has to improve. And Anderson’s arrival would certainly aid in that quest.
The 25-year-old has proven to be one of the best attackers in the Italian top-flight in the last few years with 34 goals and 42 assists for Lazio, with his eight goals and ten assists this term adding to the five goals and 13 assists he contributed last time round to help them to fifth place in Serie A – there’s a reason he has been linked with Manchester United in the past.
Clearly, Anderson has got great quality and wouldn’t look out of place in a top ten Premier League side which, based on the season we’ve just witnessed, simply isn’t Southampton.
But were they able to beat Claude Puel’s Leicester and Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham, both of whom are arguably in much better positions to challenge for the European spots next term, to the Brazil international’s signature, it would be a huge coup for a Saints side that plan to be back among the top ten clubs in the country in 12 months’ time.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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