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Southampton: The new elite club in the Premier League?

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Recently, a vast number of column inches have been offered in praise of Southampton and their pioneering use of youth, scouting and structure to bring footballing and financial success to the south coast.

This has been even more so since the departure of Nicola Cortese, the man who awoke Southampton from their slumber and oversaw their rise to the Premier League.

Yet how far can Southampton realistically progress? With their seemingly ample finances, constant flow of academy products to the first team, many would tip them, within a few years, to be Champions League regulars. But cracking the domination of England's elite will take some doing.

Since dropping into League One, Southampton have been steadily and surely rising back up through the leagues, thanks in part to their financial mite compared to their rivals.

Players including Jack Cork, Kelvin Davis, Rickie Lambert, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte were brought in despite being far out of reach of any of their rivals, whilst Adam Lallana has been retained, despite having starred for his childhood side for almost half a decade now.

Southampton have found themselves in perpetually progressive motion since the the late Marcus Leibherr took control, and even since his passing, they have continued to look forward.

Unlike most clubs who take a significant tumble into the lower leagues, Southampton have the infrastructure, stadium and fanbase to ensure financial security long term.

The money raised from players sales has been useful - cash from Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ensured the club's survival during their darker days.

But these players are not anomalies, as Southampton continue not only to churn out academy players with potential, but also to select rough diamonds from other club and mould them into top class competitors.

Rickie Lambert, Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez were bought for a combined fee of a relatively cheap £10million, and have each progressed to the point of international recognition with Southampton.

Were the Saints to decide to cash in on just one of these players right now, they could recoup their £10million and extra in one fell swoop.

This forward-thinking system looks even wiser i light of the transfer activity of other recntly promoted clubs. Cardiff City have spent well over £50million in order to give themselves a shot at survival, whilst Crystal Palace are an assortment of loans, free transfers and has-beens desperately eking out one final season.

In contrast, Southampton are a well-oiled machine, whose big signings this season were an attempt to augment the embarrassment of riches already at their disposal, not an attempt to construct an entirely new team in a matter of weeks. 

Yet questions marks will always be raised over whether they can become a team of Champions League quality.

It is no doubt they have Champions League quality within their team- Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Clyne, Wanyama and Lovren all deserve their chance in the competition. But whether they will manage to do it at Southampton remains the burning question, with their early season form a distant memory amidst some slight struggles in recent times.

There are also cracks within the team; Dani Osvaldo, meant to be the great spearhead, appears to have no more future, whilst Rickie Lambert, at 31, will surely have to face up to Old Father Time soon.

Artur Boruc, similarly, has been occasionally exposed, and beneath their expensive recruits are some clear weakness. Should the club be gutted by the big boys, their is no doubt that they will return to obscurity before long.

Yet hope remains that they may one day emerge as a genuine contender- dare I say it, as the English version of Borussia Dortmund, fuelled by high-tempo attractive football and world-class youth prospects.

Dortmund's dominance has no doubt improved the German game, and a similar challenge from Southampton may benefit the English game in untold ways. Yet till, depsite their giant strides, especially under current manager Mauricio Pochettino, there remain great challenges head. Should they overcome them, it may herald a new dawn for the English game, and one we should all welcome.

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Topics:
Southampton
Premier League
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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