Summer Ins and Outs:
IN: Dejan Lovren (£8.5m, Lyon), Victor Wanyama (£12.5m, Celtic).
OUT: Danny Butterfield, Ryan Dickson (free, Colchester), Tommy Forecast, Sam Hoskins, Ben Reeves, Frazer Richardson, Daniel Seaborne, Alberto Seidi, Richard Chaplow (Millwall, free), Vegard Forren (Molde, undisclosed), Ben Reeves (MK Dons, loan), Steve De Ridder (released), Frazer Richardson (Middlesbrough, free).
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Impact of new signings:
Southampton haven’t been spending the huge amounts they claimed to have at the beginning of the summer as they only have two signings so far. The good news is that their two signings, Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama, are both expensive players who improve the team drastically. The bad news is that they could use some more new players, especially up top and on the wings.
Lovren strengthens the defense, which desperately needed help, while Wanyama helps them in the defensive part of midfield. Wanyama should improve their look defensively and provide them a good holding option going forward; he’s strong, fast, can finish well, has a great long shot, and much more. He reminds me of a young Michael Essien, a workhorse who can score goals and get assists. Fantasy wise, I like both Lovren and Wanyama, especially considering their cheap price.
What to expect from 2013/14:
You can certainly expect the Saints to improve from last year. They had a solid season, finishing 14th, but they looked much more impressive towards the end of the season. Manager Pochettino knows what he is doing and considering they didn’t lose anyone important and added two really good pieces, the Saints should be moving up. I don’t think they have nearly enough to even think about the top four finish they may be hoping for, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints finish right around 10th place. Their core players are mostly young, with the exception of Rickie Lambert, and they can build around them for the season and for the future.
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Players to watch:
Luke Shaw – Shaw just turned 18 this summer and signed a permanent contract with Southampton, despite being wanted by big clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United. Shaw is going to be a star in this league and you can expect him to be one of the Saints’ best this season.
Rickie Lambert – Lambert was the leading English scorer in the Premier League last season and there is nothing to prevent him from achieving similar numbers this year. He is the team’s heart and soul and will be their go to guy when they need help. He proved his usefulness when he brought the Saints back to a 2-1 win over Besiktas with a goal and an assists. Very good fantasy option.
Morgan Schneiderlin – Schneiderlin is the club’s motor in midfield and one of their most important pieces. His work ethic and determination are a pleasure to watch. He is on his way to becoming a star.
Artur Boruc – The goalkeeper won the battle for starter last season and kept his place for 20 starts. He gained the trust of some fans but many still question his ability. The thing to look for here is whether Boruc will be able to keep his place. If Southampton can sign a better keeper, Boruc might not be their guy next season.
If their main players remain healthy, Southampton should have enough to once again remain in the Premier League. I predict they’ll improve on last year’s success and finish 10th or 11th in the League. If they can continue improving at this rate and sign a few more big names next summer, they could possibly challenge for a top six spot two or three years from now.