New Southampton manager Claude Puel is slowly starting to piece together a squad he can call his own as the South Coast club have announced the signature of Crystal Palace keeper Alex McCarthy. The former Reading shot stopper joins the Saints on a 3 year deal.
The signature of McCarthy is the third new face to enter the St Mary’s this Summer with Nathan Redmond and Pierre Emile Hojgberg already added to the ranks as the Saints once again look to carry out their now annual rebuilding works.
McCarthy would have seen his days at Crystal Palace all but numbered once the signing of former Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda was announced. That would have meant that he would be number 3 in the goalkeeping pecking order at Selhurst Park and a move away from South London would have then be the most likely outcome.
That said McCarthy will have his work cut out if he is to dislodge England international Fraser Forster from between the Southampton sticks. It’s no coincidence that Southampton’s form was greatly improved once Forster returned from his long term injury and his performances went a long way in Southampton qualifying for the Europa League for a second season in a row.
But perhaps that is where Puel has identified a weakness in that if Forster was to be injured again then there would be quite a drop off in quality, with Kelvin Davis already leaving the club in the Summer the ranks would have been depleted leaving just Forster and Paulo Gazzaniga as recognised keepers.
With McCarthy now on the books not only does it bring it a young but more importantly experienced backup it also gives Forster a bit of competition for the keepers jersey and that will fend off any complacency that tends to set in when keepers aren’t under pressure to keep hold of their place in the team.
Now that McCarthy has come in, it has allowed Gazzaniga to go out on loan to Rayo Vallecano for the whole of 2016/17 season. At 24 Gazzaniga will be looking to be obtain first team football for himself and the route would have been very much blocked at St Mary’s.
For McCarthy it ends his time at Selhurst Park which was a particularly short one. He never could quite make the keepers jersey his own under the stewardship of Alan Pardew as he managed only 7 Premier League appearances last season.
Previous to that his Premier League outings at Loftus Road were few and far between as he only made 3 outings in the 2014/15 season when QPR were sent back down to The Championship after what was a pretty forgettable season.
So he may not have a raft of Premier League matches under his belt but he has made 70 appearances for Reading at Championship level and is a steady hand when called open. He may not walk into the first team straight away at Southampton but it’s a promising signing nevertheless and Saints fans will no doubt be delighted that it’s a player joining the club than opposed to the usual exodus that takes place at this time of year.