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Why Southampton must beat Everton and West Ham to this £18m-rated ace in January

Southampton fans in the Transfer Tavern were again left deflated by their side after seeing them go down 2-1 at Stoke on Saturday.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash at the bet365 Stadium having won just one of their preceding four Premier League games, in which time they had managed to score just one goal.

And although they did indeed net in the Potteries over the weekend thanks to Maya Yoshida, Mark Hughes’ Stoke bagged twice through Mame Biram Diouf and Peter Crouch to condemn the Saints to a third defeat of the campaign, leaving them 12th in the Premier League.

Pellegrino took over from the sacked Claude Puel over the summer with the brief to install a more attacking brand of football at Southampton, but that has so far not been the case, with the South Coast outfit managing just five league goals from their eight matches.

So recent reports that they are keen on a reunion with Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is likely to thrill several of our resident Saints fans.

The 28-year-old began his career at St Mary’s before moving to North London in 2006, where he has since gone on to score 107 goals in 390 games for the Gunners, as well as laying on 74 assists in the process.

But with three substitute appearances in the Premier League so far, the England star’s time at the Emirates Stadium could be coming to an end, and as such the Saints must seek to fend off reported interest from Everton and West Ham to land the £18 million-rated forward (as per Transfermarkt) in January.

And that’s because Walcott’s arrival would certainly address their striking concerns, and the prospect of a World Cup next summer with England could bring the best out of the 28-year-old once again.

Ultimately, Southampton are seriously struggling to score goals, and more you look at it, the more you wonder whether the blame was incorrectly laid at Puel’s feet last season, or whether the attackers are actually good enough over the course of a campaign.

January signing Manolo Gabbiadini started like a house on fire, but his form has fizzled out somewhat with just one goal so far this season, while the striking duo of Charlie Austin and Shane Long have managed just one between them, which was Austin’s penalty in the 3-2 win over West Ham back in August.

That’s simply not good enough, and won’t be good enough if the Saints are hoping to secure another top ten finish in the Premier League, or indeed seek to go on a cup run like they did last season.

But Walcott’s arrival would significantly help their quest for goals.

The 28-year-old can play upfront on his own or out wide, and has the pace to spark things into life in the final third – having someone like him and Nathan Redmond down the flanks, or Walcott up top running in behind, would be exactly what the likes of Steven Davis and Dusan Tadic are looking for when orchestrating things in the middle.

And with 65 goals at Premier League level, as well as on four occasions bagging in excess of ten goals in a season in all competitions for the Gunners, Walcott has the sort of calibre Southampton are after to take them up the division.

Importantly though for the Saints, and indeed Walcott, a return to familiarity could be exactly what he needs to reignite his World Cup hopes with England.

The 28-year-old hasn’t made any of Gareth Southgate’s squads since he took permanent charge back in November 2016, with his last cap coming in a 2-2 draw with Spain at Wembley little under a year ago.

But, when he is confident and in form, he has all the traits which would make him a huge asset to Southgate – his pace could be a massive boost to England, and a huge problem to any side defending against them.

And knowing that he must improve to get on that plane to Russia could bring the best out of him, and alongside a return to a place where it all started for him many years ago, a move to Southampton makes complete sense for Walcott in January, as it does for the Saints themselves.

Thus, it’s a deal the South Coast outfit must seek to get done in the New Year.

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Article title: Why Southampton must beat Everton and West Ham to this £18m-rated ace in January

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