New Southampton manager Claude Puel is slowly starting to piece together a squad he can call his own as the south coast club have announced the signature of Crystal Palace keeper Alex McCarthy. The former Reading shot stopper joined the Saints on a 3 year deal.
The signature of McCarthy is the third new face to enter the St Mary’s this Summer with Nathan Redmond and Pierre-Emile Hojberg already added to the ranks as the Saints once again look to carry out their now-annual rebuilding works.
McCarthy would have seen his days at Crystal Palace all but numbered once the signing of former Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda was announced. That would have made him number 3 in the goalkeeping pecking order at Selhurst Park, so a move away from south London was the most likely outcome.
That said, McCarthy will have his work cut out if he is to dislodge England international Fraser Forster from between the Southampton sticks. It’s no coincidence that Southampton’s form was greatly improved once Forster returned from his long term injury and his performances went a long way in Southampton qualifying for the Europa League for a second season in a row.
But perhaps that is where Puel has identified a weakness in that if Forster was to be injured again then there would be quite a drop off in quality. With Kelvin Davis already leaving the club in the summer, the goalkeeping ranks were depleted, leaving just Forster and Paulo Gazzaniga as recognised keepers.
With McCarthy now on the books, Saints will have a young yet experienced player who will give Forster a bit of competition for the keepers jersey. Puel’s shrewd signing will fend off any complacency that tends to set in when keepers aren’t under pressure to keep hold of their place in the team. It’s not just a signing for backup, it’s a signing to make Forster better.
It’s also a signing that has allowed Gazzaniga to go out on loan to Rayo Vallecano for the whole of 2016/17 season. At 24 Gazzaniga will be looking to be obtain first team football for himself and the route would have been very much blocked at St Mary’s.
For McCarthy it ends his stay at Selhurst Park; a particularly short stay, in fact. He never quite made the keeper’s jersey his own under the stewardship of Alan Pardew as he managed only seven Premier League appearances last season.
Previous to that his Premier League outings at were few and far between:he only made 3 outings in the 2014/15 season as a QPR player when his side were swiftly sent back down to the Championship after what was a pretty forgettable season.
So he may not have a raft of Premier League matches under his belt but he has made 70 appearances for Reading at Championship level and is a steady hand when called open. He may not walk into the first team straight away at Southampton but it’s a promising signing nevertheless and Saints fans will no doubt be delighted that a player is joining the club as opposed to the usual exodus that takes place at this time of year.
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