Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino has tipped Gaston Ramirez to make a big impact next season.
The Saints paid Bologna a club record £12million for the Uruguayan forward last summer, who after a bright start to life in the Premier League, has failed to make a massive impact during the second half of the season.
But Pochettino insists that the price-tag was never an issue, and it was more about getting used to a new country.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Pochettino told reporters: "The first season for any player is tough.
"I want to think it is just him struggling to adapt to a new country and language. I'm sure it has nothing to do with his price."
Following the 22-year-old's dismissal during their latest home tie with West Bromwich Albion after a clash with Shane Long, Saints' Argentine boss is hopeful that Ramirez will not get more than the customary three-match ban.
He added: "I hope it's not because that's our season over."
Having arrived at St. Mary's following interest from Premier League duo Liverpool and Tottenham, the signing of Ramirez was something of a coup for the south coast club. And, having starred in the 4-1 home win over relegation-threatened Aston Villa, expectations soared. But the Fray Bentos-born playmaker has since failed to live up to the hype.
Having shown his quality sporadically this season, it's expected that Southampton will stand by their record signing in the hope that their patience (and significant transfer outlay) will pay dividends next term.
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