Ralph Hasenhuttl faces a challenging summer, despite being linked with numerous domestic jobs over the last 18 months he remains at Southampton, they require an influx of new talent. His win ratio is patchy but impresses with his passion, knowledge and tempo he asks his team to play. Not only does a new injection of squad depth need to be acquired to bolster numbers he faces a fight to keep some of his key men.
Ryan Bertrand has already left the club, severely underrated he solidified the left side either at CB or full back. Romain Perraud has arrived from Ligue 1 but can only play full back and he’s totally different to the dynamic Bertrand. If he does not come in seamlessly then major issues will occur, it will be a area opposition teams will attack.
Contract wise key men like Vestergaard, Stephens and Ings are a year away from walking for free, if they are not offered deals or refuse to sign one they need to be sold on now. This will of course lead to even greater holes in a playing staff who are already short of consistency, quality and numbers. If any of these men leave class replacements who can hit the ground running will be needed, men of that calibre are not cheap! Age is a key factor, years ago talented academy products were brought in on a regular basis, usually better than the last man, eventually sold on for a sizeable fee. This doesn’t seem like a option to replace the current top guys or even layer the squad depth. Men who could be on the Southampton radar are Tammy Abraham or Odsonne Edouard to replace Ings for now and the future while at centre back you would like at men like ex player Callum Chambers, Ben Cabango or from abroad the experienced Nicola Maksimovic (a player who on a free should be a target for numerous PL clubs).
All 3 goalkeepers on their books are approaching the end of deals, no clear no. 1 has emerged over the last few seasons. Surely a new lead man in between the sticks should be considered, domestically a few are available like Henderson, Johnstone or Ramsdale. In the case of the latter 2 stale squad players could be used to entice the relegated WBA or Sheffield Utd.
The strongest sector on the pitch is the midfield but this only relates to the starting 11, like the squad as a whole the back ups are weak or inconsistent in their form. Strengthening this area is less of a pressure as minutes will be in short supply initially so blooding in youth to the club should be considered. The relentless press of Hasenhuttl can wear on the players a few hungry, youthful legs to support the main cast is a short and long term decision. Billy Gilmour would have been a ideal man to come in on loan but Norwich pulled off one of the loan coups of the summer.
Quality and quantity are needed at Southampton over this and the next window, like so many PL teams this coming season is a major one to determine their future in the top flight for years to come. The Saints have become stale and Premier League status needs to be earned every season, just staying up should never be a option as you can become a Sunderland or Blackburn very quickly. Southampton do not want history repeating itself like the last time they went down!