Southampton 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate. \
I tried really hard to find a scenario where I thought this would be a really good season for Southampton. But, despite my best efforts (and some good transfer moves) I’m just not convinced it’s enough. Let’s be honest, there’s not much worse they can get with goal concession, and I really think that Gunn will be a good addition to help mitigate this. On the goal scoring front, Tadic was a good creator for the club, but I also think that Elyounoussi will be able to provide at least that level of contribution. However, Southampton was 6th worst in the league at giving up goals last season, while also scoring the 6th fewest goals in the league.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect Southampton to get better, probably a 14-16th range, meaning that I think they will be able to avoid getting sucked into the relegation battle (mostly) with their signings. I think that given the stroke of luck they had managing to stay in the League with such a negative goal difference, only one other club had a worse goal differential (and they actually finished above Southampton). That being said, I see them finishing towards the bottom of the Premier League again with not much of a problem, they should be able to reinvest a substantial portion of their revenues from TV and league place. This gives them the opportunity to identify some good transfer targets and try to close deals early in the next windows for a cut-rate price.

Ins:

  • Jannik Vestergaard ($27.5m from Borussia Möchengladbach) – Vestergaard comes off a couple of very productive seasons for Gladbach. He’s a true defender, he doesn’t add much to the attacking side of the game, but he does his job well. He averages 5 clearances per game, along with 2 tackles, an interception and a block and a half per game. He also has great vision completing 85% of the 60 passes per game he makes. Over 32 appearances in the Bundesliga last year he contributed 3 goals and an assist in 2,880′ minutes — meaning he played every available minute. The two games he missed were due to an ankle injury (1 game) and a suspension for yellow card accumulation (also 1 game). I think that this is a great pick up for Southampton at a reasonable price. Southampton conceded 19 more goals than they scored; but I think that Vestergaarad will help square things up in the back.
  • Mohamed Elyounoussi ($20m from FC Basel) – Elyounoussi is a current international for Norway winning 16 caps and 4 goals. He also played in 44 appearances, 13 goals, and 17 assists in the Swiss Premier league. I think he’s a great pick up for Southampton as he seems to be a very consistent player, in the season prior (2016-2017) he scored 10 goals, with 13 assists in 43 appearances. While I think there will be a bit of an adjustment period due to sheer quality, I thin he will walk right into the first, filling the space vacated by Tadic. I expect him to showcase his dribbling and through passes en route to a good first season for them. I think this will also prove to be a good signing for Southampton again at a reasonable price, especially because of his youth — I think he can serve the club well for a long time.
  • Angus Gunn ($12.5m from Manchester City) – I think the amount of money attached to this move makes it clear where Mark Hughes expects this signing to play. The last year he split time between the two other keepers on the roster, I don’t think  you spend this kind of money without the assumption that there would be a return on investment. In my mind, that means he’ll be starting and Hughes will have clear expectations that Gunn will help (along with the strengthening of the back line) cut down on the goals conceded, which will give them a chance of performing much better in the league. He has very little history, but what he does have from going on loan to the Championship he’s conceded about 1.3 goals per game, across 46 appearances and during the time he kept 15 clean sheets. For comparison, the existing goal keeper split has yielded no more than 5 clean sheets for a single keeper, and only 9 clean sheets total. True, it’s not similar competition levels, but Gunn is also a number of years younger with more time to progress, I think this is a good signing and a good investment in a youth player that will be able to help the club for a long time going forward.
  • Stuart Armstrong ($8.8m from Celtic) – Armstrong battled a knee injury last season that limited his playing time making a total of 24 appearances a contributing 3 goals and 4 assists. In the season prior he was dramatically better, making 31 appearances and scoring 15 goals and 7 more assists. Armstrong’s debut for Southampton was not something he’ll probably remember with any fondness, but I think he’ll end up being a good signing and that he and Ings will combine for a bunch of goals this seeaon. Armstrong and Ings go a long way to help with trying to fix the negative goal differential they had last season.
  • Danny Ings (“Loan” with mandatory $25M future fee from Liverpool) – Ings comes off a series of bad injuries during his time with Liverpool which severely limited his playing time. I think Ings is still a great player (if he can stay healthy), but I think that $25M might be a bit excessive. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong and get back into the form that had Liverpool buy him initially. I’m amazed that Southampton were will to pay this much, as Liverpool bought him for about $10M — meaning that after not playing hardly at all for Liverpool, they’ve still managed to get $15M in profit. I think that some of the price inflation is likely to come from the deferral of a fee until the next transfer window, but I still think his price his high. That said, I think he’ll get into the first team and get some goals on the board for Southampton, which is something they desparately need.

Outs:

  • Dusan Tadic ($12.5m to AFC Ajax) – I don’t mind this departure, I think they have to cash in where they can and I think that Elyounoussi should be able to provide a similar impact to the first team. If there’s a downside to this, it’s that they’ve gotten so little for him, I expect his real valuation to be far closer to what they paid for his replacement. I think they’ve sold a little too cheaply here, but aside from that I think the business is solid.
  • Florin Gardos (Free Transfer to CS U Craiova) – The Romanian came over for a fair amount of money but has never really made his way into the side. Gardos was on loan to Craiova last season and given his inability to get into the first team — I think it’s probably for the best they move him on.
  • Jérémy Pied (Released) – Pied came over to the club on a free transfer, but like Gardes, was unable to establish himself in the first team. They aren’t really out anything by letting him go, they paid wages for him to give 6 servicable performances and an assist. I have no issue with this move.
  • Stuart Taylor (Released) – With the addition of Gunn, I don’t see any reason for the club to hold on to Taylor. They already have 2 newly-demoted reserve keepers, which will be competing to back up Gunn. And they don’t really need 4 keepers for the first team. Sorry to Taylor, but his services just really aren’t needed here.

Last update: August 16, 2018

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