2015/16 Finish: 6
Under Ronald Koeman, Southampton was a team that prided itself on their defensive organization and their ability to not concede goals. They finished the season only giving up 41 goals. Offensively, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle led the scoring efforts with 11 goals each. But they’ve both since left. Last season was undeniably a success for this side, but their work will be cut out for them if they want to repeat that this season.
Transfers In: Nathan Redmond (MF), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (MF), Alex McCarthy (GK), Jeremy Pied (DF)
Southampton opened their transfer window by signing Nathan Redmond from Norwich. Redmond, is only 22 and proved he’s capable of being a dangerous attacker. He tallied 6 goals from the wing last season. I expect to see more of the same for Southampton he continues to improve. Hojbjerg is another young signing at 21, coming over from Bayern Munich. He may have struggled to break into the loaded Bayern squad, but he should see his fair share of playing time at Southampton and it’s up to him to use it wisely. McCarthy provides more depth in goal. And Jeremy Pied is a player familiar with Claude Puel, the new manager. He should help provide depth at defense.
Transfers Out: Juanmi (FW), Sadio Mane (MF), Victor Wanyama (MF), Graziano Pelle (FW), Bevis Mugabi (DF), Jason McCarthy (DF), Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Gaston Ramirez (MF), Will Britt (GK), Kelvin Davis (GK)
This window saw Southampton lose some of their key players from last season. The loss of Mane is going to hurt. He was their most dangerous attacking player last season, and he’s a player that’s difficult to replace. Victor Wanyama is another player whose loss will be felt. A strong and powerful player, Wanyama played a huge rule in Southampton’s ability to control the midfield and heading the defense. Like Mane, it seems unlikely that Southampton is going to have a player that can do exactly what Wanyama did. Pelle’s loss will be felt, but he shouldn’t be as irreplaceable. Shane Long will likely take over striker duties this season.
Key Player(s): Dusan Tadic (MF)
Tadic is going to be a key player for Southampton this season. With the loss of both Mane and Pelle, someone is going to need to pick up some of the offensive responsibilities. And while Tadic isn’t necessarily a goal scorer, he has constantly shown that he can be a creative force when given the opportunity. Last season he recorded 12 assists, leading the team. He’s going to need to repeat that for Southampton to do well. It should also be noted that Tadic can score as well. He netted 7 goals in 34 appearances last season.
Predicted 2016/17 Finish: 10
Ultimately, we don’t see Southampton reaching the same level as a year ago. The losses of Mane, Wanyama, and Pelle are going to be felt. They also brought in a new manager. There could be an adjustment period when the season starts. It just doesn’t seem like the side will be able to qualify for European football again this season.