Transfer Moves Southampton May Make in January Window
With Southampton currently on a run of four games without a victory and the injury list becoming longer and longer on the South Coast, many are wondering if Mauricio Pochettino and club chairman Nicola Cortese have another big signing in store when the January transfer window opens.
While Southampton do not have a lot of needs, considering most of the injuries are relatively short term—another midfield option, especially one that can play on the wings, could give the squad an extra boost.
Southampton traditionally keep their transfer dealings close to the chest, so you probably won't see a vast array of rumors in the papers like other clubs. But here are some rumors that have been circulated about players moving in and out of the club.
Most transfer rumors involving Saints players moving away from Southampton need to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems as though the media or larger clubs still haven't figured out that Nicola Cortese will not be selling any of the club's star players or prospects.
So you can ignore crazy rumors like Dani Osvaldo going to Atletico Madrid, as claimed by Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror or Valencia, Luke Shaw moving to Manchester United, also per Richards, Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur or Jay Rodriguez heading to Arsenal, according to Matt Law of the Daily Mirror.
But there are a couple of players that could be leaving Southampton.
Billy Sharp is currently on a three-month loan at Reading with former Saints manager Nigel Adkins. The Daily Mirror reports that Adkins will look to make the move permanent in the January window for £800,000. The 27-year-old has only played two matches for Southampton since the Saints were promoted to the Premier League, so Sharp would not be a big loss.
The other name that may leave Southampton is former-record signing Gaston Ramirez. The £12 million signing from Bologna is rumored to be returning to Italy to sign for Napoli or Inter Milan according to the Daily Mirror.
While the Uruguayan international is an immense talent, Ramirez has struggled to adjust to Pochettino's system. This season, the 23-year-old has only made six substitute appearances after scoring five goals in 26 matches last season, per WhoScored.com.
Ever Banega, Valencia
The rumors of Ever Banega coming to Southampton have been around since last summer, when Pochettino declared his interest in the Valencia midfielder.
While nothing came of it, a move may still happen in the January window. Ben Jefferson of The Express says Southampton are still in the running for Banega and that Valencia may be forced to sell with financial difficulties surrounding the club.
Banega would bring a level of offensive skill that not many on the Southampton team can match. The Argentinian averages 2.0 key passes per match and 2.2 dribbles per game, according to WhoScored.com. Only James Ward-Prowse averages two key passes, and Adam Lallana is the Saints current leader in dribbles with 2.0 per match.
The 25-year-old certainly doesn't mind getting involved in a tackle, something Pochettino is sure to like. Banega is averaging 2.2 tackles per match for Valencia this season, according to WhoScored.com.
Banega is strictly a central player though, which would require a bit of adjustment in the Southampton midfield. An Osvaldo-Lambert partnership would no longer be possible in Pochettino's 4-2-3-1 formation, as neither are really comfortable out wide. The Argentinian is also a magnet for yellow cards, picking up five already this season in La Liga, according to WhoScored.com.
Diego will be a free agent in the summer, so Wolfsburg may be forced into a sale this January or risk losing him for nothing.
The Brazilian is a major threat with the ball at his feet, averaging an astonishing 5.3 dribbles per match, second only to Franck Ribery in the Bundesliga, according to WhoScored.com. Diego's skill makes him a major target for opposition defenders, as he is the most fouled player in the league, averaging 3.9 fouls committed against him.
The 28-year-old is no slouch passing the ball either. Diego averages 2.5 key passes per match and boasts an 83.2 percent pass completion rate.
Diego is primarily a central midfielder, but can play on either flank. That versatility would be welcome in Pochettino's system that sees his attacking midfielders often switching points of attack.
Aaron Hunt, Werder Bremen
Another possible target from the Bundesliga is Werder Bremen's Aaron Hunt.
Hunt has been linked to Southampton by Alan Nixon of the Daily Mirror. The 27-year-old, who is half-English by virtue of his mother, is also out-of-contract when the season ends. While Werder Bremen are close to the relegation zone in 14th place, they may have to let him go to avoid losing him for nothing.
Hunt is one of the most aggressive passers in the Bundesliga. His 2.7 key passes per match ranks fifth in the league, according to WhoScored.com, despite him only completing 78.4 percent of his passes. The German international is also a tremendous crosser of the ball, averaging 2.4 successful crosses per match, the fourth best rate in the league.
Like Diego, Hunt is primarily a central midfielder who can play on the flanks when asked. While Hunt isn't near the dribbler that Diego is, he is plenty skilled with the ball at his feet. His 2.3 dribbles per match would be tops on Southampton's team.