Southampton supporters in the Transfer Tavern are eagerly anticipating the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, what with their side seeking to improve upon a disappointing 17th place finish last time round.
Mark Hughes’ men were in a huge relegation battle for much of last term, to the point that the former Stoke City boss was drafted in by the Saints hierarchy following their decision to part with Mauricio Pellegrino. And 54-year-old Hughes did exactly what was asked by leading the South Coast outfit to vital victories over Bournemouth and Swansea City to eventually seal a 17th place finish in the Premier League, three points clear of the bottom three.
Nonetheless, our resident Southampton fans are hoping for a lot better from their team this season, although many are well aware that signings will be needed for their side to re-establish themselves as a top ten club in the division.
And one man several of those Saints supporters lining up at the bar are calling for their side to land this summer is England international Ruben Loftus-Cheek, whose exploits at the World Cup should convince Hughes’ men to make a move for the £13.5 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt).
Ultimately, the 22-year-old earned a place in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the tournament in Russia as a result of a fine campaign at Crystal Palace last term, in which the midfielder netted twice and laid on five assists for Roy Hodgson’s men.
And while those figures are hardly ground-breaking, much of what good Palace produced in the final third came through the Chelsea star, with his influence and quality convincing Southgate that he deserved a place on the plane to the World Cup.
And given his efforts so far for England, the Three Lions boss has been vindicated as Loftus-Cheek came on to great effect to help the side beat Tunisia 2-1 in their opening group game last week, before starting and impressing in their 6-1 demolition of Panama on Sunday.
Clearly, the Chelsea midfielder is destined for a huge future in the game for both club and country, but question marks remains over his short-term future at Stamford Bridge, especially with the managerial situation itself far from clear.
And Southampton must seek to join the race for the 22-year-old, as they themselves are in need of greater creativity and flair in the attacking ranks having scored just 37 goals in their 38 Premier League games last season.
The likes of Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal failed to really get going last term, bagging just three goals and laying on only six assists between them, while Dusan Tadic largely flattered to deceive before netting a vital brace in their win over Bournemouth in May.
Thus, it’s clear that if Hughes is to take Southampton back to the top half of the Premier League, where they finished in the four seasons prior to the last one, quality additions in the final third are needed – Loftus-Cheek would definitely fall into that category.
And based on his impressive exploits for England at the World Cup, the Saints must seek to join the chase, which reportedly includes the likes of Everton and Newcastle United, for the 22-year-old this summer.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!