Shane Long's stint at Hull City appears to have been a pretty short one, as the player reportedly will be sold to Southampton. That might be a nice signing for the club were the rumoured price tag not so high.
Jim White of Sky Sports first reported the potential move:
Suffice to say, the reaction to that price tag was swift and, well, not always so kind. Andy Glockner of The Cauldron summed up the thoughts of many:
A bit harsh, sure. But when you break down the numbers, it's hard to justify this cost. If the quoted price is indeed true, it will be quite the nice piece of business by Hull, considering the player was bought in January for a reported £7 million fee.
In 30 total appearances between West Brom and Hull last season, Long managed to tally seven goals and added two assists. He earned a 6.67 average match rating from WhoScored.com in his time with West Brom, while that mark was raised slightly to a 6.84 grade with Hull.
For a player brought aboard to add some bite to Hull's attack and help them avoid relegation, it was a decent enough piece of business. Now, considering that Hull reportedly could be making about a £5 million profit on the player, it looks like a stroke of genius.
On Southampton's side of the fence, however, Alex Goring Crook of TalkSport makes an argument for why the signing, even at a high price, makes sense:
At Southampton, he'll be expected to replace the production lost when Rickie Lambert departed the club (13 goals in league play). And if Jay Rodriguez and his 15 goals from league play last year also leave, Long will be under even more pressure to deliver.
That may be a tall order for the player, who has never scored more than eight goals in a Premier League season. Indeed, Long's best season came for Reading in 2010-11, when he scored 24 goals and added 10 assists in 47 League Championship fixtures.
In other words, there is no indication that Long can produce the number of goals Southampton have lost this summer or could yet lose. That certainly makes the reported transfer fee seem more than a bit frivolous.
Still, his energy and attacking intent are needed at Southampton, who have already seen stars like Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren depart. Southampton haven't exactly been quiet on the buying front, however, as Long joins new signings in Graziano Pelle, Fraser Forster and Dusan Tadic, while Ryan Bertrand and Saphir Taider were added on loan.
Add in a new manager in Ronald Koeman, and it's safe to say Southampton will have a whole different look about them this season. Whether that look is good enough to replicate last year's eighth-place finish is different matter entirely, especially when the club's top midfielder, Morgan Schneiderlin, so desperately wants out.
Last week, Koeman publicly said Schneiderlin wouldn't get his wish, per the Press Association (via The Guardian), perhaps in an effort to end the mass exodus of the club's stars.
Schneiderlin held talks with Koeman and the Saints chairman, Ralph Krueger, on Friday when it was decided the France midfielder was not 'mentally prepared' to play on Saturday in a friendly against Bayer Leverkusen. The 24-year-old has the weekend off and will be given until Monday to come to terms with Southampton’s stance on his future.
'We made the decision about tomorrow’s match together. If this is still the situation next week, then Morgan has a big problem,' Koeman said. 'It’s not an easy situation. I was a football player and moved from smaller clubs to bigger clubs.
'But first of all, you have to know you signed a contract and you have to respect your contract. We told Morgan to take two days off and think about the situation because we will not change our minds. This is our decision. So we will see on Monday.'
Ending the bleeding while bringing in some new blood is vital at this point for Southampton. And Long, to his credit, brings a decent amount to the table. Yes, he's not a great finisher, but his pace, work ethic and hold-up play are strong. He's an asset even if he isn't scoring.
Southampton would surely love him to score quite a bit, however.
Much like last year, Long could find himself battling alongside a club to avoid relegation. While the Saints have done enough business to make it seem likely they'll be able to stay up, the sheer turnover this summer will suggest a long transitional period is in the offing.
If Long can help expedite that process, Southampton may end up looking pretty wise for bringing him aboard, however high the cost. Still, the reported move would go down a whole lot easier for Southampton supporters if Long is either brought aboard for less money or if the club uses the transfer funds apparently needed in this case to bring aboard a superior player.
That seems unlikely, however. Expectations are going to be high for Long if this deal goes through. Simply put, it's hard to imagine him ever quite living up to them.