It has been a summer of transition for Southampton, a feeling all too familiar for the fans of the club for more than a year now. However, this summer has had a different feel to it as the owners of the club have been able to replace the outgoing manager Ronald Koeman with a well-reputed manager in Claude Puel. Though they have not started their new season well, taking just one point from the two opening fixtures, there was enough evidence in those games that the new manager has what it takes to better Southampton’s best ever Premier League finish from the previous season.
With the transfer window now nearing its end, the manager will have to access his options and get deals done quickly if necessary ahead of the long Premier League season. So keeping in mind the performances under Puel in the new season, here are places the Saints need to strengthen their squad before the start of the new season.
Attackers who can suit the diamond formation
The manager has favored a classic 4-4-2 formation (with a diamond in the midfield) that saw Dusan Tadic in a new role at the tip of the diamond with Oriol Romeu at the base. Shane Long and Nathan Redmond took the honors of the two attacking roles with the former Norwich City man taking the role of a support attacker and Long taking the mantle of a proper striker. These three places are the most important for Puel in his squad as most of the attacking and goal scoring threat will be provided by players in these three areas.
The likes of Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin provide enough cover for Shane Long in a forward role but for the other two positions, the Saints only have the likes of Sam McQueen and Lloyd Isgrove who can play as outright attackers and these are not the names Puel would want to rest his team’s goal-scoring burden on.
The manager will have to dig into the market and will have to try and find a player who can cover for the likes of Tadic and Redmond and also push them for their place in the first team. They lost the likes of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle in the summer to other clubs and will need to replace them before the next season.
However, they are very well stacked in the central midfield and defensive areas with the likes of Virgin van Dijk, Jose Fonte, Florin Gardos, Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens all fighting for the two places in central defense and Jordy Clasie, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre Emile Højbjerg, Steven Davis and Harrison Reed all fighting for places in the midfield. They look a strong outfit with the manager working hard to create a strong midfield.
Puel will love the look of his new side and will hope that he can add a couple of attacking options to his squad before the end of the transfer window. He has accumulated a strong squad which can compete with the best in the country but with European football also on their schedule, the manager will still have to add some players to his squad before it is perfect. Where do you think Claude Puel can strengthen the Southampton side before the end of the transfer window?