Southampton are heading towards a summer transfer window in which they need to rebuild and strengthen, so Ralph Hasenhuttl should be looking to get rid of veteran striker Shane Long permanently.
The Republic of Ireland international was somewhat surprisingly handed a new two-year deal last summer but barely featured for the Saints in the first half of the campaign, before being sent out on loan to Bournemouth in the Championship.
The 34-year-old made just two starts for Southampton in all competitions, along with some brief cameo appearances from the bench, before making the loan switch to the Cherries in January, with whom he has made nine appearances thus far, contributing two goals.
However, his lack of goals for the Saints has been a real concern in recent seasons, and following his contract renewal, he has failed to find the back of the net for Hasenhuttl’s side.
This means that, given that Long reportedly earns £60k per week at Southampton, he has been paid £2.7m in wages so far this season without returning a single goal.
The Irish forward isn’t exactly setting the world alight at Bournemouth so unless Southampton can find a buyer for him this summer, it seems likely that he will end up back on Hasenhuttl’s bench again next season.
The Austrian already has the likes of Danny Ings and Che Adams available as regular striking options in his side, whilst Nathan Redmond and Theo Walcott have also featured up front at times this season.
This, combined with promising attacking options such as Dan N’Lundulu and Nathan Tella, suggests that Long doesn’t have a future with the Saints in a playing capacity.
Therefore, they must try and rectify the mistake they made last summer when they gave him a new two-year deal and ensure that he leaves the club on a permanent basis ahead of next season and get his huge salary off the books.