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Manchester United's interest in Graziano Pelle will be a true test of Southampton's ambition

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The latest transfer rumours surrounding striker Graziano Pelle will be a true test of Southampton's ambitions.

In another world, the dashing Italian would be driving a vintage coupe through the winding roads in the south of France, advertising the newest men's luxury fragrance.

However, thanks to his exceptional performances for the Saints this season, he is the subject of rumours linking him with a switch to Premier League giants Manchester United.

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If a bid were to materialise, it will be a very interesting predicament for those in the corridors of power down on the south coast. From an economic standpoint, given that the Saints are likely to demand in excess of £20 million, the answer is obvious: sell, sell, sell!

Pelle is in only his second season at St Mary's and was signed for a very shrewd £8 million. You don’t have to be a stockbroker to know that it would make sense to cash in on a return of this magnitude.

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This may sound like a very cold and cynical assessment of the Italian centre forward who has quickly become a fan favourite at Southampton, but this is the culture of modern football. In a game where money has become so important, players are seen as a commodities; an item of stock that can be traded and sold.

While Pelle’s stock is currently sky high, he is now approaching the wrong side of 30 and it is impossible to anticipate when a player’s age will catch up with them. With modern science and technology, Pelle could continue his form for years to come; then again, he could also suffer an injury at home to Stoke this Saturday and never play again.

Southampton admit themselves they are a selling club and, unlike most football teams, see no shame in acknowledging this - selling players is an integral part of their business model.

The club know all too well how gambling financially can bring a club to the brink of bankruptcy so the prospect of rejecting a potentially high bid will not sit well with them. Southampton pride themselves on being a teacher of football and have learnt the value that this ethos can bring.  

Sign a player; develop them; sell the player for vast sums of profit; reinvest profit into the playing squad; repeat - a very simple business model that has seen the Saints rise from League One to competing for a place in European Football. 

But if we look at football through rose-tinted spectacles and embrace our inner purist we should all want Pelle to stay in the red and white stripes. His strength and technique make him utterly unplayable at times, no matter who is trying to mark him. He can brush off two defenders with ease and still bring down a 60-yard pass with his chest.

The Italy international has formed a spectacular partnership with Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic and combined have quickly built up one of the most mesmerising attacks in the Premier League. The Saints are known for playing good football - they play from the back and base their game around intricate passes and free flowing movement.

Whilst it can be great to watch, this style of football doesn’t always work. In fact, under Mauricio Pochettino, fans often felt frustrated that there was no plan B. 

That is why Pelle is so valuable to Koeman’s current Southampton side. He is an outlet for the Saints; his aerial ability and hold up play allows his team to get up the pitch quickly and
effectively.

A prime example of this was against Newcastle last season. The Saints stole victory in a smash and grab 2-1 win, where the visitors' first goal came from a long ball to Pelle.

The Italian was able to hold off the defender and with one touch chested the ball into the path of Eljero Elia, who found himself through on goal. Newcastle had dominated the early exchanges of this match, but with one moment of quality Pelle was able to silence St James' Park.

It would be a shame to see him leave Southampton, especially to a club like United where first team football is far from guaranteed. If he does leave, however, there is one thing we can be sure about based on Southampton’s track record: whoever they replace him with will probably be even better.

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Topics:
Premier League
Southampton
Manchester United
Football

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