Southampton must loan out Shane Long and Sam Gallagher and sign Lacina Traore

The summer transfer window may be closed for Southampton in terms of incoming permanent deals or loans, but they can still sign free agents and they should take a punt on 6ft 8in giant Lacina Traore – once they have offloaded two of their strikers on loan.

What’s the word, then?

Shane Long in action against Celta Vigo in pre-season

Well, the signing of Danny Ings from Liverpool last week has left Mark Hughes with five centre-forward options – Ings, Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini, Shane Long and Sam Gallagher – this term, although none of them probably have the perfect attributes to play as an effective lone centre-forward like Rickie Lambert and Graziano Pelle did previously.

In fact, Long and Gallagher failed to make the matchday 18 for the goalless draw against Burnley at St Mary’s on Sunday in the club’s Premier League opener, with starter Austin struggling from an aerial point of view when goal kicks or long balls were pumped forward by Alex McCarthy and the defence.

Loaning Gallagher and Long out to Championship sides – where the market for those deals is still very much open – would allow Hughes to bring in a player that is far more suited to the way it seems he intends to play this season.

Why should they sign Traore?

The 28-year-old is available for nothing and having seen the success Hughes got from Peter Crouch during his time with Stoke City, the Ivorian could prove to be an inspired addition for nothing.

While he has been far from prolific in recent years – even if he scored five goals in 14 Russian Premier League games for CSKA Moscow in the 2016/17 season – his height and strength would allow him to win headers and hold the ball up, bringing the likes of Ings, Nathan Redmond and Mohamed Elyounoussi into play.

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Considering he is available for nothing it would be a largely risk-free short-term contract for a profile of player that Hughes, who must make a 23-year-old Ligue 1 attacker his first January buy to help Redmond finally fulfill his potential, doesn’t already have in their ranks.