Southampton has been one of England's most pleasing teams to watch this season, playing a beautiful brand of football that encourages creativity and one touch passing while also harassing opponents high up the pitch when they lose the ball.

That style has accounted for their current status in the top 10 of the English Premier League, but what is next for the Saints? Are they ready to challenge with England's elite?

By all accounts they certainly are ready to play with the best. They have gone to Old Trafford and secured a point and defeated Liverpool on home turf already this season, a clear indication of their potential.

They have a style of play that has some lofty comparisons to be drawn with Barcelona, but with a direct route that gives them an added dimension.

Saints have England internationals in the squad alongside a fantastic youth system, that provides them with a good amount of experience and depth to challenge for the spots in Europe in the future.

And with a few summer signings there is no reason that Southampton can not break into the top five or six in the league table.

A central defender, forward and goalkeeper should be the top priorities for Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino heading into the summer transfer window, if he stays put.

Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida can not make the grade playing for a top five team, Rickie Lambert is ageing and they clearly needs competition in a central strike role, while Artur Boruc can be inconsistent, something a club challenging with England's bes can ill afford.

With all those components Southampton can certainly cement a place in Europe next season.

However, Southampton need to be wary of the fact that teams will not be taking them lightly next season.

This season they have benefited from catching people off guard with their play. Big clubs might come in expecting a routine victory, but Southampton has defied all expectations to come away with three points or a draw.

Next season though, teams will understand Southampton's style of play and will be better in counteracting Pochettino's tactics. It will be much harder for Southampton to scrap out wins and draws next season.

Inconsistency could become an issue and this will be something they need to be wary of as they try to break into the top five.

But with quality players like Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez playing freely under a tactically astute manager like Pochettino there is no reason the club can not get three points consistently over the course of 38 games.

Europe is on the horizon and Southampton are ready to make the journey.

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Topics:
#Southampton
#England Football
#Football
#Premier League