Life under Claude Puel has gone relatively smoothly since the Frenchman took charge at Southampton earlier this Summer. With a current mid table league position to go along side an EFL Cup Semi Final berth and impressive Europa League performances there’s not a lot to complain about on the South Coast. But as any good manager worth their salt will tell you there’s always a tough task in keeping your squad happy, obviously Puel’s Southampton is still a work in progress and will take time to really come into their own but with nearly a half season behind him the former Monaco boss will now look to reshape his squad in the Janaury transfer window. It’s no secret that Southampton could do with some new faces but here are three that could be leaving through the St Mary’s exit door.
A member of Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning squad in July, Jose Fonte in a name that continuously seems to be linked with a move away from Southampton. It’s almost as if winning Euro 2016 has put the centre back in the shop window for a move away from the club next month. If reports are led to be believed the 32 year old is refusing to sign a new contract and Southampton now have to decide whether to cash in on their asset or risk him walking away for nothing in 18 months time. The Defender who was a part of the clubs rise from League One to the Premier League has been at St Mary’s since 2009-10 but it looks a real possibility that he could be spending his last few weeks in the Red and White stripes.
The question now is where will Fonte end up? Jose Mourinho has long been an admirer of the 32 year old and he feels that Fonte could be the man to stabilise what has been a shaky defence at Old Trafford. If Mourinho is to sign his compatriot then a bid of £5m would likely be enough to enable the move to Manchester but one man who will be watching this saga play out with interest is Ronald Koeman. The Everton boss is yet to take any of his former players to Everton but he could be prepared to test the water with a bid for Fonte of his own. The Dutchman only said last week “If we like to sign a player from Southampton for the future and if we think all the people in Everton that we need that player then we try to get the player in. Everton have not been the same side since that 5-0 defeat to Everton in November and the former European Cup winner could now look South for not only reinforcements but a familiar face.
Virgil Van Dijk
But it’s not just one centre back that Southampton could be losing in January it could very well be two. That’s because a string of top Premier League clubs are on full alert when it comes to possibly signing Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk. Although Southampton have been slightly goal shy so far this season they have given away very little at the other end and that is thanks to the impressive performances of Van Dijk. His performances have been earning rave reviews and with that the rumours of his departure from Southampton are beginning to pick up pace. What is most appealing is that the buy-out clause contract for the former Celtic Defender is just £25m. Small change in this current market.
With the repeated absence of Vincent Kompany through injury, Manchester City are weighing up whether to make a bid in January. Pep Guardiola does of course already have options but there are already doubts over John Stones since his signing from Everton while Nicolas Otamendi’s inconsistency is also cause for concern. The 25 year old is now being earmarked as the long term replacement for captain Kompany as many feel that this could be one injury too many for the Belgian international and that his best days at The Etihad are numbered. Southampton would make around a £12m profit on the sale of Van Dijk but would obviously be loathed to sell him. If City do come in with a bid that would when possibly start of a bidding war for his services with Everton and Manchester United believed to be watching the situation with interest.
You could almost be excused for forgetting that Jay Rodriguez was a one- time England international. If you can cast your minds back to the 2013-14 season the former Burnley forward scored 15 Premier League goals and won his solitary England cap. That was definitely the high point of Rodriguez’s career so far but the last couple of seasons have been bleak by comparison. A 2 year spell that has been beset by injuries has seen Rodriguez slip down the pecking order for Southampton and the once potentially blossoming England career is now just a mere afterthought. With just 3 appearances to his name this season in the top flight a move from St Mary’s could do wonders for both him and the club.
There is no doubting the talent that Rodriguez has but after so many injuries it’s going to take time to rejuvenate and the one thing he needs most is minutes on the pitch. Therefore a loan move could suit all parties and Hull City are believed to be the team who is at the front of the queue. Mike Phelan’s men are going through a forward injury crisis of their own and desperately need some firepower amongst their ranks if they are to pull themselves away from the bottom three in the New Year. With long term injuries to both Abel Hernandez and Will Keane a Hull side that was struggling for goals before is now in real trouble. If they can tempt Rodriguez away with the promise of first team football each week he may well be the saviour that they will be wishing for this Christmas.