The 29-year-old arrived at St. Marys after two very impressive goalscoring seasons with Feyenoord. The Italian striker has continued his form and hit the ground running in the Premier League, netting six goals in his first eight appearances for Southampton. He has also netted one other in the Capital One Cup.
The signing of Pelle is everything that the club needed after losing their most influential players in the transfer window just gone. Rickie Lambert spent almost five years on the South Coast making over 200 league appearances for the Saints. His influence over the side as they climbed through the divisions was arguably only matched by Adam Lallana, who followed him to Anfield in the summer.
The Saints had to fill the void left by Lambert and somehow find a way to replace his direct contribution to 23 Premier League goals (13 goals 10 assists). There is no question that without the now 32-year-old in their side, they would not have enjoyed such a comfortable return to the top flight.
That void appears to have been filled. Pelle has almost scored half the amount that Lambert managed last campaign in just his opening 8 matches. Theoretically putting him on target to score around 29 goals in the league this season if he continued on his current form.
At 6’4″ Pelle is 3 inches taller than Rickie Lambert who was notorious for his aerially ability during his time at St Marys, and Graziano is using that height to great effect. When the comparison is made between the two, Pelle has certainly offered Ronald Koeman another dimension to his tactics. Lambert last seasons averaged just 1.8 aerial wins per match, putting him a long way back in the overall standings. It’s a different story for Pelle however who is currently winning an average of 4.3 aerials per game, making him the 10th best player in the air out of the Premier League players.
Southampton are very much one of the best sides currently in the Premier League and they were never as impressive as they currently are whilst Lambert was at the side. For example, Adam Lallana was widely considered their best creative midfielder and yet the England international only made five assists during the entirety of his final season at the club. New signing and essentially his direct replacement Dusan Tadic has already assisted a joint league high of seven. There is quite simply more goals to be had for Pelle than there was for Lambert but the replacement has certainly worked.
A professional football team can never buy a player with 100% confidence that everything will work out. A new country, a different league and a different style of football. Many players have arrived and failed for bigger money than £8m, but that was the amount that was ‘risked’ on the Italian hit-man. Pelle had scored 20+ goals in the previous two league seasons, albeit in the Eredivise, but his record in the seasons before that is not so spectacular. Whatever happened at Feyenoord has really set Pelle up to be a true goalscorer and that’s everything that Southampton needed to replace the goals that they had sold. Excellent business.