Southampton transfers: Four players Saints could sign in January
Southampton transfers: Liam Garrahan looks at four players Mauricio Pochettino could sign in January window
Artur Boruc’s recent injury has highlighted Southampton’s lack of strength in depth in the goalkeeping department. With veteran Kelvin Davis also out of contention, it’s been down to Argentinian rookie Paulo Gazzaniga to fill the void between the sticks. Although not entirely down to him, Southampton have conceded eight goals in five games, relinquishing their grip to their claim of having one of the tightest defences in Europe. One man who could solve this problem, and certainly give Boruc a run for his money, is Brazilian international Julio Cesar. Gunning for a place at the World Cup in his homeland, Cesar needs first-team action, and with Rob Green performing so well for Queens Park Rangers, the chances of him getting any before the summer are very slim. Cesar was a shining light in Queens Park Rangers’s last season in the Premier League. A huge stumbling block would be his reported £90,000-a-week wages. It has been reported that the Saints have told Cesar that if he wants to play in Brazil this summer, then he needs to drop his demands, but with that in mind, Southampton could do far worse than looking to him to solve their woes.
Despite recently replacing Joe Hart as Manchester City’s number one, many believe that this is just a punishment for the Englishman’s poor form and unforgivable blunders. Costel Pantilimon has proven his worth as a Premier League goalkeeper and could advance his career by challenging Boruc for the number one jersey. At 6ft 8ins, Pantilimon dwarves even Peter Crouch in the penalty area and is a commanding presence, something that Saints lack. Boruc may be a fantastic shot stopper but he’s well known for his blunders. Pantilimon would not have had the nerve to try to round Olivier Giroud in his own penalty area, nor would he have been caught off guard by a long goal-kick from Asmir Begovic. Manuel Pellegrini will be desperate to hold onto his second-choice keeper but he may be tempted at the right price, especially when the club has been linked with Iker Casillas.
With Championship level back-up to Dejan Lovren and Jose Fonte, the Saints need to strengthen at the back if they are to compete towards the top of the table. One target that they are constantly linked with is Italy international Davide Astori. The centre-half is highly rated and has seven caps to his name, not too bad for a player who has not yet reached his prime. The 26-year-old scored his only goal for Italy in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Uruguay, a match that they eventually won. Much has been said about the Saints defence this season, ranging from the remarkable to the downright silly. A player of Astori’s quality would easily slot in alongside signing-of-the-season candidate Dejan Lovren and would give Southampton’s young full-backs, Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw, the extra security they need to venture forward. Southampton have already signed two players from Serie A since being promoted from the Championship. The jury is still out for Osvaldo but Gaston Ramirez looks to be heading out of the door after a sticky spell at St. Mary’s. They’ll be looking for a bit more luck if they go for Astori.
Although players that fall in to this bracket are clearly not transfer targets, the Southampton academy is famed for producing some of the top talents in world football. Gareth Bale, who recently transferred to Real Madrid from Tottenham for a world-record fee of £85.3million, is a product of their academy and started off life as a left back. Coming through the ranks they have Calum Chambers, a player who has already helped out in their injury crisis by filling in for Nathaniel Clyne. Chambers already has a number of Premier League appearances under his belt and doesn’t look out of place, even against David Silva. Another highly rated defender in their academy is Matt Targett, although a run in the side for him depends on the fitness of Luke Shaw and Danny Fox. With the top clubs sniffing around Shaw, a move away from St. Mary’s for him could pave the way for Targett to stake his claim for a first-team place. Southampton are no longer a “selling club”, with their debts settled and they are now looking to the Barcelona model of producing home grown talent to move forward. However, this strategy is not without risks. Academy players are young and only have a small amount of experience. If Southampton continue to slip down the table they will need more experience to pick the side up. At the moment it looks as if they’re doing fine; slowly introducing academy products to the first team is something that they have been doing for years, they’re no strangers to this game and know exactly when a player is ready to make the step up.