As Southampton announced the sales of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Ricky Lambert, amongst others, pundits and fans alike feared for the future of the Saints in the Premier League – but under new Coach Ronald Koeman, and with some new names on the roster, the south coast side are looking like surprise challengers for European football this term.
One of those names that has been brought in was 29 year old Italian Graziano Pelle. Signed from Feyenoord for 8m Euros, the striker’s career only sparked in 2012, on loan at the Dutch club from Parma, where he netted 27 goals in 29 appearances.
That form won him a 2.1m Euro move to the Eredivisie, where he scored 23 league goals in 28 last term, before his move to the Premier League. His six goals so far this season for the Saints has now earned him a call-up to the Italian national team, where he was on the scoresheet on his debut versus San Marino this month.
Other noticeable changes since Mauricio Pochettino’s time, has seen Dusan Tadic come in and impress, while Tony Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand have reinforced the defence, and Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin have come to further prominence.
Such astute transfer market dealings have taken Southampton to being dark horses for relegation, to European challengers, thanks to 16 points from their first eight games, a tally that leaves them in third position, comfortably above Liverpool and Arsenal.
Whether the likes of Pelle and Tadic can inspire such success for the rest of the season remains to be seen, but a mixture of good management in the transfer market, tactical management fro Koeman, and quality of the new players, gives them more than a fighting chance of European football at St. Mary’s next year.