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.