Southampton’s ongoing 2019/20 campaign has been full of ups and downs but the Saints are seemingly on the rise.
If Ralph Hasenhuttl is to take the team to a higher level next season, though, he will first have to get rid of some financially draining fringe players to make room for more cost effective assets.
Let’s take a look at three players who should be in the firing line…
Long has been a great servant to Southampton, making a total of 201 appearances and also bagging 34 goals and 26 assists along the way.
But at 33 years of age and with his contract due to expire in the coming summer, it’s the right time for him to leave the south coast outfit.
With Danny Ings tearing it up in the Premier League, scoring 14 goals already, and Che Adams looking to make his impact at the club, Long may find himself surplus to requirements.
His work rate is impressive and he has proven to be a valuable asset in the high-pressing system Hasenhuttl advocates, but his goal scoring record isn’t prolific enough to justify a new deal.
Currently, he is on £3.12m per year and that’s money the Saints could spend wisely elsewhere.
For all his talent Mario Lemina simply couldn’t find his feet at Southampton.
He has since been loaned out to Galatasaray where he is currently plying his trade.
The 26-year-old has played a total of 19 games for the Turkish outfit and managed to bag one goal along the way as well.
The former Juventus man has proven in fleeting bursts that he is a player of immense technical quality, but his ability has seldom translated into effective performances for Southampton.
And considering he earns £3.38m a year on his current contract, it would be wise for the Saints to offload him in the summer so both player and club get a clean break.
Finally, another loanee who is unlikely to return to the side is Fraser Forster. Even though the 31-year-old veteran has a strong association with the Saints, having played a total of 125 games for them, the presence of Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy poses a huge problem for the 6ft 7 colossus.
The English goalie is getting regular time in Scotland, with 2700 minutes played across all competitions in 2019/20, so it’s fairly reasonable to assume he’ll be eager to continue playing regular football away from St Mary’s next season.
Fraser’s current contract with the Saints sees him earn £3.64m per year, and getting him off the books permanently would free up a healthy sum on the wage bill.
If Southampton can offload the aforementioned trio, they could free up £10.14m per year in wages alone.