Southampton: Grading the Saints' Transfer Market Activity This Summer
With the start of the 2013-14 Premier League less than 48 hours away, many teams have wrapped up their transfer business for the season, while others have barely begun.
Southampton seem to fall somewhere in the middle. The Saints wrapped up the signings of Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama fairly early in the window. But if reports are true, Mauricio Pochettino and club chairman Nicola Cortese may not be finished making deals before the window closes.
Last May, I examined the five areas I thought Southampton needed to improve upon or build depth at to make a push into the Top 10. Here's a look at how the Saints have met those needs.
Currently, Southampton have not made any new signings at the top of the formation. Ian Murtagh of the Daily Star has reported that the Saints are continuing their pursuit of AS Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo.
Emmanuel Mayuka has improved over the summer, but if Pochettino continues to use a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1, Southampton really do need another striker to build depth at the position. This holds especially true since Billy Sharp and Tadanari Lee do not appear to be in the long-term plans of the club, since they were not included in any of the preseason friendlies.
Current Grade: Incomplete
The only change to the uncertainty at the right wing position has been the addition of academy graduate Lloyd Isgrove to the mix of possible options.
While Isgrove has shown flashes of promise in preseason matches, he seems to still be a bit unproven to make any significant impact on the first team.
There are two weeks left in the transfer window, but there haven't been any significant transfer rumors that indicate a move to improve the position is likely. That means the same cast of characters will be called upon to fill one of the weakest positions in the Southampton first 11.
Current Grade: D
When Frazer Richardson was allowed to leave, that left Nathaniel Clyne without a natural backup at right-back. This wouldn't be a problem if Clyne stayed healthy, but it appears that Clyne is likely to miss the opening game against West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
Southampton did not bring in any reinforcements to the squad, but academy graduate Calum Chambers has shown promise in preseason matches and has played the majority of the minutes at right-back. This looks to be a case of a need filled from within.
Between Clyne and Chambers, there is a lack of experience that may be exposed. The combined age of the two right-back options is 40. If Clyne's injury is more serious than believed, a veteran free agent signing may be needed to fill the position in the short term.
Current Grade: B-
While Southampton's three primary center backs, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld, all played fairly well in their first seasons in the Premier League, there was always room for improvement.
Improvement has come to the South Coast in the name of Dejan Lovren. The 24-year-old Croatian defender comes from Ligue 1 perennial contender Lyon.
Lovren has already become a fixture in the Croatian national team, earning 17 caps so far. However, he did have problems staying in the Lyon lineup last season, as Lovren only made 18 appearances for the club last season. Part of that may have been due to his disciplinary record, as the Croatian received three red cards, more than the entire Southampton squad did last season.
If Lovren can control himself and keep himself on the pitch, this looks to be a very good signing. But you shouldn't count on the 24-year-old being an automatic inclusion in the lineup either.
This was an area that didn't really need strengthening, as Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork were arguably two of Southampton's five best players last season.
But when quality becomes available, sometimes you just have to snatch it up.
While many a star from the Scottish Premier League haven't exactly adapted well to the Premier League, the Kenyan international has shown that he can compete at the highest levels. Wanyama scored the opening goal and made six tackles according to WhoScored.com in Celtic's 2-1 shock victory over Barcelona in Champions League play.
How would you grade Southampton's transfer activity this summer?
Wanyama should be a near-automatic selection for Pochettino when filling out his lineup card this season.
If Pochettino and Cortese can make one more signing before the window closes, this will be a very successful offseason for Southampton. But until the Saints get one more attacking option at right wing or striker, it still seems like there is a bit of work to be done.
Overall Current Grade: B-
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