Southampton did the bare minimum in the 2017/18 season as they finished in the 17th spot with just 36 points in hand. The club not only failed to score but also conceded goals to a great extent, meaning they were effectively poor on both ends of the pitch.
With the transfer window up and running, new manager Mark Hughes must replace the outgoing players and reinforce the squad with quality players.
Given their history, Southampton are a club that should not be satisfied with just surviving in the Premier League. They need to aim higher and to do so, they must strengthen the weak areas in the pitch.
Their defence has been lacklustre ever since Virgil van Dijk’s departure and they need a proven goalscorer higher up the pitch as well. With that in mind, here are 3 players Southampton must sign this summer in order to achieve a top half finish.
As per reports, Southampton have joined the race for Norwich City star James Maddison, along with the likes of Everton and Fulham. Maddison is among the best young prospects in the country, having displayed his fine qualities in the Championship over the past season. With time, he is only going to get better but he needs a step-up in his career.
An attacking midfielder by trade, Maddison is exceptional at creating chances and making things happen in the final third. He battles hard for possession and is a great dribbler, which makes him an ideal No.10.
The 21-year-old scored 15 goals and assisted a further 8 last season and he would be a fantastic signing for the Saints.
Southampton are yet to sign a quality replacement for Virgil van Dijk. The Saints conceded over 2 goals per game since his departure, which goes to show how desperately they need a new central defender.
Hughes is known for employing a three-man backline and given the club’s current options, he must bring in new blood.
Maya Yoshida was underwhelming while Wesley Hoedt lacked consistency. The likes of Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek are yet to impress and the situation makes a strong case for Southampton to consider a move for Ben Gibson.
Gibson, who played every minute in every game for boyhood club Middlesbrough, is one of the stars expected to leave the Championship in search of top-flight success this summer. The player is well-known for his leadership qualities and understanding of the game, making him a good choice for Hughes.
He is a reliable defender who prefers to play out from the back and is quite composed on the ball even in the most demanding situations.
Southampton must sign a new winger, considering Sofiane Boufal’s falling out with manager Mark Hughes and Nathan Redmond’s inconsistency. The answer to their woes could be Everton youngster Ademola Lookman.
Lookman is far from the finished product but he could offer an extra dimension to the Saints’ attack. The Englishman struggled for games under both Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce at Everton. However, his loan spell with RB Leipzig was quite successful.
He might not boast of a lot of experience but Lookman has no shortage of talent. Over the course of the last season, he scored 10 goals and assisted 4 despite spending just 955 minutes on the field. He also registered a key pass per game, making him an option worth considering for Southampton.
Signing this 22-year-old England superstar in January could be a shrewd move by Everton
Everton should make a move for Ruben Loftus-Cheek in January
According to the Daily Star, Chelsea’s out-of-favour youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been tipped with a move away from the Stamford Bridge on a permanent basis.
Both Chelsea and Everton witnessed changes in the managerial position this summer. While the Blues have done exceptionally well in the Premier League and enjoy an unbeaten record so far, the Toffees have endured a mixed start with three wins from their first eight games.
Maurizio Sarri brought in Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in the summer to bolster his options in the midfield and the Italian boss has favoured a 4-3-3 formation.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho have established themselves as regular starters in Sarri’s eleven as a part of the midfield three, which has left the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Cesc Fabregas, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley to battle for the remaining one spot. The manager has opted to go in with Kovacic on most occasions but has given Barkley an occasional look-in for a few games.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found it difficult to break into the first-team picture and has played only 33 minutes in the Premier League this season. The 22-year-old did start against Vidi in the Europa League but was subbed for Barkley after an hour.
As a matter of surprise, Maurizio Sarri bashed the youngster for being tactically incompetent in the midfield. He stressed that Loftus-Cheek is very good technically and physically but needs to improve tactically to get into the team. (h/t Daily Star)
Loftus-Cheek spent time on loan last season at Crystal Palace and helped the Eagles to an 11th place finish in the Premier League. He scored 2 goals and registered 3 assists in 24 league appearances for Roy Hodgson’s side and his impressive displays earned him a spot in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia.
Everton has been linked with a move for free-agent Samir Nasri when his doping ban expires next month, claims the Daily Mail. Marco Silva is looking to add cover and competition for the likes of Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Nasri is being considered as a possible option. (h/t Daily Mail)
Undoubtedly, Nasri has an enviable record in the Premier League and has won the competition twice with Manchester City back in his glory days. However, it might not be the wisest of moves to sign him at this stage of his career given that he is already 31 and has been out of action for almost ten months.
As things stand, Everton should look to lure Loftus-Cheek to Goodison Park by offering him a lucrative contract. A versatile midfielder who can fit into any position in the midfield, the 22-year-old will be the perfect back-up for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
While he has the game reading ability and the physicality of a central midfielder and can break the play with crucial interceptions, he also has the vision, creativity and firepower of a central attacking midfielder and is capable of playing on either side of the pitch. Loftus-Cheek likes to drop back and win the back and then surges forward with pace to craft attacking moves. He has an excellent technique and can find the net from distance with powerful long-range efforts.
Everton need more depth in their squad, especially in the midfield, if they are to stamp their authority over their rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Watford, Bournemouth, Leicester City and Arsenal. To be honest, signing Lotus-Cheek will boost their chances of making it to Europe next year.
Signing this 26-goal free agent could prove to be a shrewd move for Everton
Everton should not hesitate to sign Samir Nasri for free
According to Daily Mail, Everton manager Marco Silva is considering a move to sign free-agent Samir Nasri after his doping ban expires next month. The 31-year-old last played for Turkish club Antalyaspor in January before being tested positive for banned substances.
Nasri started his career with Marseille and moved on to Arsenal in 2008, where he spent three seasons before joining Manchester City. At the Etihad, he had the best time as a footballer, winning the Premier League on two occasions and the League Cup once.
He was also a part of the Manchester City team that reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16. The Frenchman accumulated a total of 171 appearances for the Cityzens across all competitions over the course of five seasons, finding the back of the net on 26 occasions.
However, he fell out of favour following Pep Guardiola’s arrival and spent time on loan at Sevilla in the 2016/17 season, before moving to the Turkish league with Antalyaspor.
Everton have made a decent start to their Premier League campaign under new manager Marco Silva and the Toffees currently sit 11th in the standings with 12 points from their first 8 games. Everton went into the international break with an impressive 2-1 win over Leicester City. They have shown a lot of promise but one might say that they could have done much better since they are yet to face the big guns of the Premier League.
Richarlison has been the standout performer for Silva’s side since his £40million arrival at Goodison Park in the summer. The Brazilian has chipped in with four goals and has been supported well by Theo Walcott and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who have also contributed with goals and assists.
Everton were struggling after back-to-back defeats at the hands of West Ham United and Arsenal but got their campaign back on track courtesy Sigurdsson’s inspirational display against Fulham. The 29-year-old scored a brace to power the Toffees to a 3-0 win. He followed it up with a stunning long-range effort that proved to be the winner against Leicester City.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s contribution has been instrumental in Everton’s return to form and the 29-year-old Iceland international has shouldered the responsibility of playing as the team’s key playmaker.
However, Everton do not have many creative midfielders in their ranks. Silva does have Morgan Schneiderlin who is more of a defensive midfielder but youngster Kieran Dowell is the only other central attacking playmaker. Despite boasting of plenty of players who can play on the flanks, Everton lack a versatile central attacking midfielder who can also play as a supporting striker.
And the vastly experienced Samir Nasri should be the ideal man to provide cover and competition for the likes of Richarlison and Sigurdsson. Given that he has been out of action for quite some time, he might take time to find his feet but with his quality, it will be hard to back against him adding value to the team.
Nasri has all the qualities of a creative midfielder. The Frenchman’s technical ability and vision to provide incisive passes to the attackers up front is commendable. He also tends to drift wide at times where he uses his crossing ability.
Given that he is pretty dynamic and versatile, he could add value to the squad as a complete attacking midfielder. Furthermore, he can also operate either as a deep-lying-playmaker or a central midfielder.
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However, Everton should be looking to use him as a playmaker behind the striker and the 31-year-old is likely to flourish under Silva’s free-flowing style of play.
Hence, Everton should not hesitate to sign the Frenchman and this signing might power the team to greater heights.
Enough is enough – Everton must loan out this £27million flop in January
Everton should send Cenk Tosun on loan if he continues to underwhelm
According to Liverpool Echo, Everton have held discussions with Turkish giants Besiktas over a possible loan move for Cenk Tosun in January.
The 27-year-old striker moved to Goodison Park for a whopping £27million from Besiktas. However, he has failed to justify his huge price tag. The Turk has only scored 6 goals in 22 Premier League outings so far.
He was one of the first names on the teamsheet in the earlier games under new manager Marco Silva but his lacklustre form has forced the manager to look for alternatives. Consequently, Silva had to go in with Richarlison as the spearhead in Everton’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City.
His performances have been largely disappointing, given that he arrived at the Premier League with a massive goal scoring reputation. In fact, he had scored 64 goals in 142 appearances for his former club Besiktas.
Although he has shown glimpses of his brilliance, the Turk has found goals hard to come by in the Premier League. He has impressed with his hold-up play near the goal and has registered a couple of assists but he lacks consistency.
The 27-year-old has looked sluggish with his movement inside the penalty box and has failed to add that cutting edge to Everton’s attack. To sum it up, he has looked a tad off the pace and must add a bit more agility and awareness to his game.
However, it would be too early to write him off. Considering the fact that he had enjoyed commendable success with his former club, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send him out on loan if the Turk continues to underwhelm.
Tosun will have a couple of months more to improve before the winter transfer window opens. At present, he seems quite similar to someone like Islam Slimani, who was a club record signing for Leicester City and had a remarkable scoring record for Sporting Lisbon but failed to impress in the Premier League. Consequently, he was loaned out to Turkish club Fenerbahce at the start of the season.
And it looks like Tosun will also go down the same path. Everton have enough quality attackers to rack up the goals and they need not have the Turk on their payroll if he continues to struggle.
Read More:- 3 Top-class midfielders Everton must consider signing in January including 22-year-old Leeds star
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shown a lot of promise this season and has already scored thrice, one of which was a headed equalizer against Huddersfield Town. New signing Richarlison has done a wonderful job for the Toffees up front and has been on a song with his goals while Theo Walcott has established himself as a key figure in the final third.
Also, the departure of Tosun should open the door for Bernard to get regular starts down the left with Richarlison spearheading the attack.
Everton should continue handing him regular opportunities and wait for him to find his feet but if he doesn’t do so, a loan move to Besiktas should be the ideal option for all parties involved.
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