Southampton may well have sold another player to Liverpool last night but at least it came with a world record transfer fee, that is because they managed to get £75m for Netherland international Virgil van Dijk. A figure that makes him the most expensive defender in the history of the game after surpassing the amount that Manchester City paid Monaco to acquire the services of Benjamin Mendy in the Summer.
Southampton can only make use of £67.5m due to the fact that they are required to give 10% of the transfer fee to Van Dijk’s former club Celtic due to the fact that the Scottish giants inserted a clause in the deal that saw the defender arrive at St Mary’s back in September 2015. But even with £7.5m going to parkhead it is still a sizeable windfall and the question now is just how will they spend it.
If Mauricio Pellegrino does decide to utilise the funds that have come his way then it may well be the last roll of the dice for the former Alaves boss as the pressure is beginning to mount. The Saints have only won four out of twenty Premier League matches – giving the former Barcelona defender a win ratio of just 20% since taking the St Mary’s helm.
Not only that but Southampton currently find themselves 14th in the Premier League, a far cry from the 8th place finish they had last season under Claude Puel with their current standing now having fans ask the question as to whether or not the grass is greener on the other side as the decision to change the man at the top is beginning to look like a not so shrewd one.
It is fair to say that Southampton certainly could do with a few more faces in their squad and if you were to give Pellegrino something of a pass then you could merit him with the fact that he has perhaps not built what he would deem what he would call a team that he truly can call his own, so with that in mind just where exactly would the money be spent.
The fact that Virgil van Dijk did not play in eight of those Premier League matches does point to the fact that they are perhaps adequately stocked in defence, then again they were soundly beaten by Tottenham on Boxing Day and that does allow you to think “Perhaps if they played Van Dijk at the back then they may have made more of a fist of it”
Not only that but they have shipped 30 goals so far this season, an average of 1.5 goals against per game. Not the worst goals against tally in the division but the fact that they have only scored 20 at the other end – exactly 1 goal per game speaks volumes and it is arguably there where Southampton need the most help.
Charlie Austin has scored six goals this season in the Premier League, that is 30 percent of Southampton’s total league goals in this campaign with the next recognised forward on the list Manolo Gabbiadini only scoring three and it is the kind of signing that they made 12 months ago that the club could do with in 2018.
Claude Puel bought in Gabbiadini from Napoli in January 2017 and it is fair to say it was somewhat under the radar but not only that the Italian international took to life in the Premier League like a duck to water as he ended the campaign with four goals from 11 league matches and also a double in the EFL Cup final.
But unfortunately he has not managed to kick on this time around and the Hampshire outfit are somewhat suffering as a consequence, not only that though but they also have to deal with the suspension and injury of current top scorer Charlie Austin. He still has two matches left to miss after being slapped with a violent conduct charge before Christmas but to add insult to literal injury he also hobbled off in the same game against Huddersfield with a damaged hamstring.
The only problem that Southampton will face is that other Premier League outfits will know that they have money to burn and could hike up their prices accordingly but at the same time it is fair to say that everyone will have money to spend due to the nature of the finances that the teams have in this modern day and age so should they wish to spend the money then they may not face too many obstacles.
The tricky part is trying to conduct business in January, this is the season which lends itself more to panic buying than anything else but at the same time Southampton can ill afford to sit on their riches as a failure to spend could see them become a very rich team in the Championship next season instead.