Southampton lie above the relegation zone on goal difference following a disastrous season to date, and with only seven home matches – including games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur – and nine away games to come, it is clear that they need to strengthen their squad during the January transfer window in order to survive.
The £75m sale of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool will allow them to do that, but Saints fans may be surprised at some of the names they have been linked with bringing to St Mary’s before the window closes at the end of this month.
Those supporters have become used to the club adding names such as Sadio Mane, Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg, Mario Lemina and Cedric Soares – younger players they may not have heard of but who have the potential to develop with the south coast outfit and increase their re-sale value – to their squad.
However, that doesn’t appear to be the case for Southampton in January if there is any truth to the latest transfer rumours, which is perhaps something to do with the predicament they find themselves in right now.
Maybe the time to take risks is over – for this window at least – and already in the last couple of weeks Saints have been heavily linked with moves to bring Arsenal’s Theo Walcott – who left the club to join the Gunners in 2006, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and West Ham centre-forward Andy Carroll to St Mary’s.
Those are certainly not names that the south coast outfit would have targeted in years gone by, and it suggests either a change of tact or smacks of desperation as they look to try and get some experienced Premier League players into the club to try and steer them away from danger.
It would certainly be a step away from their usual transfer philosophy with Walcott, Sturridge and Carroll all 28 years of age and perhaps with little re-sale vale once their potential and respective contracts with Southampton came to an end.
That said, if they could get the former duo on loan deals until the end of the season that would be less of an issue, but they would also need to be careful in that instance that they had players that cared for and were committed to do everything they can to help the south coast outfit.
From a fans’ point of view, they will have looked at the transfer business of a team like West Ham in recent years and not been too envious as they bring in older players with little chance of making money when they move on.
Even in the last couple of years, the Irons have brought players like Alvaro Arbeloa, Jose Fonte, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez to the club, and while the former has already left, if the latter trio all see out their contracts the east London outfit will probably lose out financially at the end of the day.
It is a model that Southampton haven’t really followed since they returned to the Premier League in 2012, and they shouldn’t really start now.
Yes, the likes of Walcott, Sturridge and Carroll are experienced English top flight players who can score goals at this level, but all would come with their own injury problems that have plagued their careers.
The south coast outfit are in trouble now but they shouldn’t panic, because if they wanted to bring two of the three players to St Mary’s on a permanent deal it would likely cost them a significant amount, even if all of the aforementioned players’ contracts are due to run out in 2019.
Those Premier League clubs know that Southampton have money in the bank after selling van Dijk, and as well as getting more value for their money abroad, the club would also encounter teams that are a little less aware of their financial clout and unwilling to demand ridiculously high fees.
While Saints need new blood and quickly, they shouldn’t abandon their principles when it comes to transfers and should continue to follow the model that has been so successful in the past to drag them out of trouble, rather than going down the West Ham route that has so often been criticised in the past.
They may find themselves in a real bad place right now, but throwing cash around on the wrong sort of players is not the right method to get themselves out of it.