There really is a lot to like about Southampton. From the rapid ease with which they have moved from promoted club to Europa League outfit to their managerial choices and vaunted academy, St Mary’s gives off a serene aura that indicates they are problem free.
Safe in the knowledge that the firesale drama of 12 months ago won’t be repeated, Ronald Koeman has started recruiting early as he settles in for a second season in charge of the south coast outfit.
Varying reports suggest a fee for Malaga forward Juanmi has been agreed. Quick, inventive and able to slot into any of the three attacking positions behind the lone striker, the 22-year-old certainly seems to fit Southampton’s bill on paper.
The one problem with the Spanish international, however, is that for an attacking player his appetite for goal is rarely sated.
Last season Juanmi scored eight goals in 38 all-competition appearances. While he will arrive with a burgeoning reputation, one that seems to fit well with the trajectory on which his new club is travelling, there is an equal chance that he could pan out to be as uninspiring as Gaston Ramriez.
In that possibility of failure lies the embodiment of the Saints’ only chink in an otherwise glimmering armour. Do they actually buy all that well?
Take the Uruguyan as an example. Signed from Bologna for £12m to bolster the club’s return to the top flight in 2012, he scored just six Premier League goals in 44 games before being loaned to Hull last season and struggling to leave a mark on their woeful campaign.
Then there’s Pablo Osvaldo, a £15m recruit from Roma a year later who lasted just 13 games before a succession of loan spells away from St Mary’s, and the pair of unsuccessful temporary signings Saphir Taider and Filip Duricic, who between them played in nine top flight games last term.
That is just a cross-section of the club’s failings in the transfer market too, with the jury still out on whether spending £12m on Shane Long was really necessary and whether the £5m agreed for Juanmi will render him a bargain-bucket coup or a costly flop.
Few can argue that the club are shy to flash their cash. Dusan Tadic, Fraser Forster and Sadio Mane all cost over £10m last season and while all three certainly enjoyed their debut seasons on the south coast, they are not the latest in a winding line of success stories as far as this Premier League era is concerned.
A conveyor belt linking their academy and the first team and an uncanny ability to sell their assets for big bucks remain the club’s core strengths and if the 10/1 top-four hopefuls’ latest signing fails to inspire, then they may be better off sticking to those principles.