If you said to Southampton fans that one or two players would leave the club this summer, they would have believed you. However, they certainly wouldn't have expected the massive exodus that has occurred instead.
Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Callum Chambers have all left the Hampshire club this summer for a total of around £95 million. It has left new manager Ronald Koeman, appointed after another key departure in boss Mauricio Pochettino, with an almighty task to maintain the heights that the Saints reached lest year.
Yet through all the money being thrown at the club for their star players, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for Saints fans next season even though at this moment in time, it can be hard to see.
Firstly, even though several key players have left, the club have still managed to keep hold of some vital players this summer. Powerful midfielders Victor Wanyama and Jack Cork, full back Nathaniel Clyne, keeper Artur Boruc, youngster James Ward-Prowse and defenders Maya Yoshida and Jose Fonte were all key to Southampton's success last season and them staying gives the club something to build a new squad around.
With chairman Ralph Kruger adamant that the club will keep vital pair of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez this summer, the club with still have an important core of players that they can work with.
Southampton's youth system is rated as one of, if not the best, in the country. The club have produced players of the standard of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlin, Lallana and Chambers over the previous decade alone.
Chambers, the latest departure from St. Mary's this summer, recently stated that the club "have a great youth system... they'll produce more players,". It should be no surprise if Southampton produce some more stars for the future this season. And with the success they have had from the outstanding system, you can be sure they won't stop producing players any time soon.
Despite the departure of the excellent Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs, who guided them to superb 8th place finish last season in the league, the Saints acted quickly in appointing experienced manager Ronald Koeman.
The Dutchman has managed a vast of European clubs, including Ajax, Valencia, Benfica and PSV. Koeman should bring a superb tactical nous along with his undoubted European experience to the difficult task of guiding Southampton to the heights they reached last season. Not only that, but Koeman's winning mentality - as a result of winning the Copa Del Rey, Eredivisie (2) and the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira with Benfica - should help his new club to have higher ambitions than ever before. The arrival of the impressive Dutchman is an astute one indeed.
A lot has been made of the departures at Southampton, yet little attention has been paid to the latest recruits this summer. Graziano Pellè, who was brought in on a three year deal, bagged an impressive 57 league goals in the last two seasons for Feyenoord in the Eredivisie, finishing second top scorer last season and top in terms of open play goals in the league. Albeit showing it in a slightly lower quality division, the Italian's finishing ability should help the Saints recover quickly from the departure of talisman Rickie Lambert. He could be crucial to the club's success in the coming years.
The second addition, Dusan Tadic, was brought in for £10.9 million from FC Twente. Tadic, predominantly used as a winger, impressed for Twente last season, scoring 16 goals in the process. The Serbian is known for is admirable burst of pace and fantastic dribbling skills. At 25, and with plenty of time to improve, Tadic could prove to be a real coup on the left-side for the Saints. The club will be looking for the winger to fill the big shoes of former captain Adam Lallana. And with 28 league goals over the last two seasons, Tadic could well be the man to fill those shoes.
The latest recruit is 24-year-old left back Ryan Bertrand, who joined Southampton on a season-long loan from Chelsea with a view to a £10 million permanent switch in the summer.
With impressive pace and good potential, Bertrand will be looking to replace Luke Shaw, who left for Manchester United. The England man has been with Chelsea since 2006 but has been under the shadow of the brilliant Ashley Cole for the left-back spot ever since, forcing him to go out on loan seven times. Bertrand has shown big promise, but must play more first team games in order to become an established left -back which he has so often promised to be. Southampton could finally be the right club for him and with Shaw leaving, Bertrand's wish of more first team games should be right around the corner.
With the club receiving close to £100 million this summer, there could be more arrivals at St. Mary's this summer and there are positive signs for Saints fans that Koeman is working hard to replace the stars that have left. With vast amounts of cash still to spend, more quality additions should add depth to a slightly thin Southampton squad that is currently apparent.
It has been a difficult time for Southampton this summer, but the smart thinking of Koeman could ensure that Saint's fans have something to smile about next season.
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