With the recent opening of the summer transfer window for English clubs, Wessex Scene provides for you a mini series of who we think will be coming and going for all the Premier League teams from A-Z. This is the fourth installment of the series covering Southampton- Swansea, with Sport Editor Jack Pethick giving his thoughts on who will be in and out the door this summer.
Southampton it seems will face another exodus from St Mary’s this summer, with the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin set to join Nathanial Clyne and Toby Alderwireld in leaving the club. Schneiderlin has been linked with a number of clubs, especially Manchester United, but also with Arsenal and Bayern Munich. It is rumoured that Old Trafford is Schneiderlin’s preferred destination, with Southampton already allegedly turning down two bids for the midfielder in the region of £25 million. Victor Wanyama is another player who has been linked away from St Mary’s, with the likes of Arsenal, however, at this point it’s just speculation.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Southampton fans though, as the injuries to key players such as Fraser Forster and Jay Rodriguez means that moves for them look unlikely. Furthermore, Ronald Koeman did an excellent job considering the exodus he received last year. Southampton received in excess of £125 million from the sales of players such as Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, yet only spent around £50 million and still guided Southampton to a 7th place finish and a record points tally in the Premier League. The transfer war chest in Southampton looks in good stead then for the summer. Southampton have been linked to a number of players, but with the exodus expected, it will be the spine of the team that will need particular strengthening. In addition, Southampton need to add depth to what is a relatively thin squad, especially with the added games of the Europa League next season. The majority of Southampton’s signings thus far will be relatively unknown to most Saints fans – they have added four players thus far in Juanmi, Cedric Soares, Cuco Martina and Maarten Stekelenburg. However, the likes of Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Saido Mané were also unknown last season but look how well they did. Koeman has proven himself to be an excellent manager and I will expect him to make further shrewd signings and do well again next season.
First and foremost, it must be said that Mark Hughes has done a fantastic job since he has been in charge of Stoke. He has, in my opinion, developed them into more of a passing team capable of beating anyone on their day. Indeed, they are a squad with quality and depth in virtually every position.
Stoke have already added a good young striker in Joselu, however, the ultimate coup for Stoke this summer would be if they secured the signing of Xerdan Shaqiri for the alleged £12 million they have agreed with Inter. Considering that Raheem Sterling is valued at around £50 million, Shaqiri – who is in many ways very similar to Sterling – would be an absolute bargain for that price. Shaqiri is a world-class player with pace, goals and a phenomenal work rate. Another player Stoke have been linked with is Ukranian international Yehven Konoplyanka. Similarly to Shaqiri, Konoplyanka would be a great addition for Stoke adding much needed goals and creativity to Mark Hughes’ side. He would also add a level of versatility, being able to play anywhere along the front three. Steven N’Zonzi, Robert Huth, Wilson Palacios and Andy Wilkinson have been the only players to depart the Brittania stadium thus far. Huth completed a move to Leicester where he spent last season on loan and N’Zonzi left earlier this week for Sevilla for a fee of around £7 million. In addition, Asmir Begovic is widely expected to join Chelsea for a fee of around £8.5 million shortly, with Marco Van Ginkel heading in the other direction on loan. Van Ginkel will be a great addition for Mark Hughes’ side, breaking the mould of the usual central midfielders Stoke usually have, adding some much needed creativity.
Now that Sunderland seem relatively settled in the manager department – for now at least- they need to focus on strengthening the spine of their team. At the back, although I would say the signing of Sebastian Coates from Liverpool and Adam Matthews from Celtic have been good signings for adding depth, I do think they need to add some real quality at the back if they don’t want to be in yet another relegation scrap next season, particularly as the likes of Wes Brown and John O’Shea are not getting any younger. Nicholas Lombaerts, the Zenit St Petersburg player they have strongly been linked with, would be a good signing. Lombaerts is an experienced international for Belgium with the know how to play at the top level. The Black Cats have also been strongly linked with Dutch Winger Jermain Lens. Lens was impressive at times for the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup and would add some much needed pace to their flanks.
However, central midfield and up-front are where Sunderland are especially weak in my opinion. Their current Forward choices of Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham, Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe are far too inconsistent and ageing, with Sunderland scoring just 31 goals in the Premiership last season. In addition, the central midfielders they currently possess in the likes of Jack Rodwell, Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt are far too similar and lack the creativity that Sunderland desperately need. Transfer rumours on these two fronts and generally for Sunderland have been thin on the ground, but the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Dame N’Doye, Will Hughes or Rudy Gestede would fit the bill and be available relatively cheaply.
Gary Monk has done a fantastic job since he’s taken over at Swansea, with some of the business done being phenomenal. Going forward, Bafatembi Gomis did a fantastic job of filling the boots of Wilfried Bony when he left for Manchester City in January, and Swansea for me have one of the most solid back fours in the league in Kyle Naughton, Ashley Williams, Federico Fernandez and Neil Taylor, supported by a fantastic Lukas Fabianski in goal.
This summer for Gary Monk will therefore be about adding depth and competition for places. The recent editions of Eder, Franck Tabanou and Andre Ayew particularly, have all been great starting points for Swansea. However, these have arguably taken a large proportion out of what is most likely a modest war chest for Swansea, so it’s likely that some faces may have to leave the Liberty Stadium before new ones can enter. Those likely to leave include a former fan favourite in Michu, defender Jazz Richards and Leon Britton. Sampadoria forward Stefano Okaka is another player who is linked with the Swans, with a decent scoring record he would add some much needed competition for Bafetembi Gomis.