For a club that continuously has its best players - and its managers - poached, Southampton do a fine job of producing a competitive football team year after year.
Since making their return to the Premier League in 2012, the Saints have finished 14th, eighth, seventh and sixth in the table. They’re currently ninth this season.
So, barring this campaign, progress has been made each year despite Southampton being unable to keep their best players.
Some of those to have left St. Mary’s include Nathaniel Clyne, Toby Alderweireld, Luke Shaw, Victor Wanyama, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Graziano Pelle.
It’s incredible, really, that they’ve been able to thrive despite the losses.
And then you think of the managers that have been attracted to other jobs. Mauricio Pochettino joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2014 and has turned Spurs into a potential title winner, while Ronald Koeman has led Everton to Europa League qualification in his first season at the club.
Now under Claude Puel, and with Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Redmond the standout players, the Saints will be playing Premier League football again next season.
What would've happened if Bale and co. stayed?
But what would the club’s aspirations be if they had kept their players? If Bale didn’t leave for Tottenham, if Liverpool didn’t sign Clyne, Lallana, Mane, Dejan Lovren or Rickie Lambert?
YouTuber Hepic decided to find out. He returned all of the aforementioned names, along with Walcott, the Ox, Wanyama, Shaw and others, to Southampton in a bid to see how the Saints would fare over six seasons.
Watch the results below.
So, the Saints didn’t win a Premier League trophy, or make a splash in the tournaments besides a couple of FA Cup semi-final appearances.
They did finish third in the third season, however. Not bad.
Disaster struck in the sixth season, though, when the club was relegated to the Championship.
Van Dijk could move on
Van Dijk could be the next Southampton player to head to a top six club, with Liverpool reportedly interest in the centre-back.
It’s a signing that former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers fully endorses.
“Virgil is at a great club, let’s not forget, Southampton is a fantastic club,” Rodgers, currently the manager of Celtic, told talkSPORT last month.
“And if he left there then of course it would have to be what you would consider to be one of the top four or top six clubs.
“Virgil van Dijk could have jumped from Celtic to a Liverpool.”
Is Van Dijk good enough for a top four club? Let us know in the comments section below!
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