The progress Southampton have made in four years since making their way back to the Premier League is quite remarkable. Despite their key players getting lured away by bigger clubs season after season and the same being the case for managers, their journey towards the next step never faced a stall. Europa League next season at St. Mary’s is the reward for the club’s significant rise in the last few years and it’s the job of new manager Claude Puel to keep up the good work that his predecessors Pochettino and Koeman started.
In this article, we will be looking at three Southampton players who did not have a good last season and needs to step up this season.
Joining the South Coast club from Romanian giants Steaua Bucharest in 2014, the 27-year-old is yet to hit the top gear at St. Mary’s. Injuries have never been kind to the Romanian international over the past couple of seasons and Gardos failed to make a single appearance for the Saints last campaign. Fonte and van Dijk will definitely remain the first choice pairing at the beck from Puel but Gardos could come handy as the third option ahead of inconsistent Maya Yoshida.
It was a massive statement of intent from the Saints when they secured the signature of Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord who was touted as ‘The Dutch Xavi’ due to his similarities in style to the Spanish maestro. Big expectations often come back to haunt you and that was the case for Southampton fans who are yet to see the Dutchman working his magic in the middle of the park. Clasie could not even establish himself as a first-team regular last time out. However, we have seen plenty of big players struggling in their debut season in England and we might be able to witness the true colours of the Dutch international in the upcoming season.
Injuries are always cruel to footballers and very few would know it better than Jay Rodriguez. During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 season, Rodriguez was slowly establishing himself among the best forwards in the Premier League as he made a deadly partnership with Rickie Lambert up front. Since then, the Englishman could never really come back to his usual self after a series of injuries. Capable of playing as the focal point of attack, a supporting striker or on either flank, Rodriguez could bring his frozen career back to life under Puel.