Southampton will have a fresh face calling the shots at St Mary’s next season, after they lost Ronald Koeman to Everton.
Whoever replaces the Dutchman at the helm will be given the remit of continuing the club’s trajectory towards the Premier League’s top four, with a price of 9/1 saying they achieve that long-term aspiration in 2016/17.
In order to realise the aspiration, it’s certain Koeman’s successor will have his own ideas on recruitment, but we’ve prepared a few pointers for him anyway:
Sign – Kolo Toure
Saints were fortunate in the sense that first-choice centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte swerved serious injury for the entirety of the previous campaign. Had they not been so lucky, Maya Yoshida would’ve had to hold the fort, an obvious detriment to any hopes of European qualification.
With a lack of alternatives beyond that and the lesser-spotted Florin Gardos, Southampton require an additional defender and Toure, a free agent following his release from Liverpool, provides an experienced solution.
He demonstrated in glimpses last term that he remains capable, if slightly less mobile. His performances in 2015/16 were testament to the fact his commitment and desire remain at the level they were at when his career began, while, at 35, he will surely settle for an ancillary role supporting the main men.
Sell – Sadio Mane
The Senegalese sharpshooter may have tied with Graziano Pelle as Saints’ top scorer last term with 11 Premier League goals, but eight of these were registered from March 20th onwards.
They were the first top-tier strikes he’d mustered since October, after scoring four of his ten league goals of 2014/15 in May of that season.
With an uncanny ability to produce his best form heading into a transfer window and not doing much else in the meantime, cashing in on Mane while his hot streak is fresh in the memory of prospective suitors will ensure a sizeable windfall is recouped.
Keep – Victor Wanyama
Mane may be expendable, but Kenyan wardrobe Wanyama isn’t.
Allegedly coveted by Premier League rivals, the former Celtic ace succumbed to a few disciplinary issues last time around, but he excels in doing the necessary dirty work required for Saints’ more skilled midfielders to utilise their technical talents.
Anchormen of his calibre aren’t easy to come by and sourcing a replacement would be difficult as well as costly.