7 Transfer Targets Southampton Should Look at in January Window
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With four points in their last two outings, Southampton have a little bit of a spring in their step heading into this week's fixture with Newcastle.
However, Southampton still sit in the relegation zone in 19th place with just eight points from 12 matches and a ghastly minus-12 goal differential.
If Nigel Adkins' side want to retain their Premier League status for the 2013-14 campaign, the Saints will most likely splash a bit more cash to strengthen the side.
Here are seven targets Nigel Adkins should consider bringing to the South Coast in January.
Vlad Chiriches, Defender, Steaua Bucharest
Vlad Chiriches would provide some extra competition in a leaky Southampton back line.
The No. 1 issue for Southampton is the leaky back line. Southampton has yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League and has conceded a league-high 30 goals, seven more than Queens Park Rangers.
The central defense pairing of Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida seems to be gaining cohesion. While the tidal wave of goals has at least slowed to a lazy stream, with the Saints only conceding four goals in the past three matches, there is still work to be done.
With Jos Hooiveld being the only other real option at center back, depth is a real concern.
Vlad Chiriches, a central defender from Steaua Bucharest, has been attracting attention with his play in the Europa League as Steaua comfortably lead their group. The 22-year-old is also a fixture in the Romanian national team, already making 14 appearances.
While the competition for Chiriches' signature appears to be fierce, the asking price—believed to be in the neighborhood of 4-5 million pounds according to transfermarkt,co.uk—wouldn't scare Southampton away.
Saints have already paid more than that for Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez this season, and chairman Nicola Cortese is full of ambition.
Douglas Teixeira, Defender, FC Twente
Brazilian central defender Douglas would add some much needed size to the Southampton back line.
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Another possible target to bolster the central defense of Southampton is Brazilian Douglas Teixeira. Douglas, as he goes by, is currently a fixture in Dutch side FC Twente, which are set to be eliminated for the Europa League after their final group stage match.
Douglas was a target for Newcastle in the summer, and a 5-million pound move was close to being agreed upon according to The Journal. However, a club option on Douglas' contract that would add an additional year to his existing contract at Twente, along with the Brazilian's multiple agents, soured the deal.
At 6'4", Douglas would be an imposing force in the Southampton back line. Both current first-choice backs, Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida, are a good two inches shorter.
Unfortunately, Douglas' price tag may have only risen since Newcastle's failed offer. According to transfermarkt.co.uk, Douglas is likely to fetch around 7.5 million pounds for a deal.
Michael Dawson, Defender, Tottenham Hotspur
Michael Dawson is anxious to find first-team playing time since being stuck on the bench at Tottenham.
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The more likely target for Southampton to shore up the back line wouldn't have to move far. Tottenham's Michael Dawson has been linked by The Mirror in a possible 7.5-million pound move to the South Coast.
Dawson has only made four substitute appearances for Tottenham in Premier League play this season, trapped behind Steven Caulker and William Gallas. However, Dawson has played well in his two starts in Europa League play.
The former England national team defender has scored a goal, made four interceptions and 18 clearances and has a 94.2 percent pass completion rate according to WhoScored.com.
The 29-year-old would love to get some regular playing time to increase his chances of adding to his four England caps and making the 2014 World Cup roster, which would likely be his last chance to play in the competition.
Wilfried Zaha, Outside Midfielder, Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha is attracting more and more attention from bigger clubs.
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Southampton were rumored to be in the chase for Wilfried Zaha over the summer by The Daily Mail. The move made sense since the two parties had agreed to a deal for Nathaniel Clyne.
The six-million pound price tag seems to be rising, and more and more bigger clubs have joined the chase. Zaha was called into the last England squad and has piqued the interest of Manchester City, according to iSports News; Manchester United according to the Express; and Arsenal according to the Daily Mail.
Zaha has scored four goals in his 16 Crystal Palace appearances this season. With the interest of the big clubs, his price tag may have moved north of 12 million pounds. Crystal Palace currently sit on top of the nPower Championship and are likely to try to keep the 20-year-old starlet if at all possible.
While Southampton are fairly well settled on the wings with Adam Lallana and Jason Puncheon, there is little depth if one of them were to suffer an injury. Picking up another winger for insurance would be a good idea in the January window.
Jeremain Lens, Outside Midfielder, PSV
Jeremain Lens was a Southampton target in the summer. Could a move happen in January?
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Jeremain Lens of PSV recently made it known that he wants to move in the offseason in order to challenge himself in a bigger league, according to eatsleepsport.com. His preferred destinations are England or Germany.
Southampton had expressed interest in Lens over the summer, and according to The Sun, had a five-million pound bid rejected by the Dutch club. With Lens demanding a move, PSV may be willing to sell in January rather than risk losing him for nothing.
Lens has been a force up front and on the wing for the current Eredivisie leaders, scoring five goals in 17 appearances. The 24-year-old has been even more productive for the Dutch national team, scoring three goals and tallying three assists in three World Cup qualifying appearances.
Tom Ince, Attacking Midfielder, Blackpool
Tom Ince has drawn the interest of Manchester United and Liverpool among others.
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While swapping Ince for Puncheon, who is having an excellent season for Southampton doesn't make sense now, following up on the interest in Ince does.
Ince is a winger but can play on the inside as well. Playing Ince on the wing would allow Lallana to move inside and link up with Gaston Ramirez, who could then play as a withdrawn striker to Rickie Lambert. The 20-year-old would also excel in Ramirez's current role as a central playmaker as well.
Competition looks to be fierce for Ince. Liverpool appear likely to make a five-million pound bid for Ince, according to The Daily Mail. Manchester United are also interested in Ince, according to The Independent.
Gary Hooper, Striker, Celtic
Gary Hooper once played for Nigel Adkins at Scunthorpe.
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Nigel Adkins has been tempted to bring a familiar face to the South Coast. Gary Hooper once played for Adkins at Scunthorpe prior to moving on to Celtic.
Brendan Rodgers has watched Hooper as well, according to The Daily Mail, and might be interested in preparing a bid for the English striker.
Hooper has scored three goals in nine Scottish Premier League appearances and scored against Spartak Moscow in Champions League play. If Celtic hang on and qualify for the knockout stages, the team may resist any moves for Hooper. But if they fail to advance and with the uncertainty surrounding the health of Scottish football, Celtic may have no choice but to sell.
While Southampton have several strikers on the books, Hooper would add a different element to the team. Hooper is a very skilled passer, completing almost 90 percent of his passes in Champions League play. Meanwhile, most of Southampton's key offensive players, like Adam Lallana, Jason Puncheon, Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert pass at a rate of 83 percent or lower, according to WhoScored.com.