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Are Saints Ready To Smash Their Transfer Record ?
Monday, 10th Jun 2019 11:29

Saints are being linked with various players across the continent and if some of those rumours are to be believed then Saints are prepared to not only beat their current transfer record but smash it.

I have always maintained that most transfer rumours are merely planted by agents and in some cases the club's themselves to stir up interest in players, not to mention that few deals are ever done before July 1st when loyalty bonuses have been paid.

But it also has to be said that rumours have to be believable, agents are aware of the type of club a player could go to and the price they would be able to afford and indeed willing to pay.

Hence you never hear rumours of Rochdale about to splash out £25 million on a current Dutch international playing in Serie A etc.

The latest one to concern Saints seems to centre around Jean-Philippe Mateta, a 21 year old striker, currently playing for Mainz in the Bundesliga.

Saints and Newcastle are being reported as having made firm offers to Mainz for the Frenchman said to be between £20-25 million, but the German club are in no hurry to sell and are putting it around that £35 million is the minimum bid as they feel that in another year his value will increase to at least that and beyond.

In truth his track record is not really that of a £20 million striker, 2 seasons ago he was on loan at Le Havre from Lyon and a decent season in the second tier of French football saw him transferred to Mainz for £9 million that in itself being around 4 times his estimated value.

Last season he scored 14 goals in 34 appearances in the Bundesliga and his value has soared leading to Newcastle and now allegedly Saints vying for his services.

But are Saints serious about signing him and at £25 million smashing their transfer record or is this just Mainz and his agent trying to link us to the player and push up the value to the £35 million the German club are hoping to get.

I tend to think it is the latter, although I think we will beat the transfer record this summer, I don't think we will smash it, Gao has spoken of the way forward for the club and that is one of evolution not revolution, the long term strategy surrounding the playing side of things has mainly worked over the past 5 years and will not change much, it is the only way we can truly compete, so we have to make it work out of necessity.

Les Reed paid the price mainly for three things, choice of managers, several panic big fee signings and signing some average players on inflated contracts that mean that we will struggle to get rid of them, not just players that came in on transfers but players who came through the academy system who have failed to reach their potential and are still here.

Things are different now, but overall most of the players we signed turned out reasonably well, some took some time to do so, but Nathan Redmond is an example of how we tapped into the potential by signing him, but then failed to develop that potential under a string of managers.

Jean-Philippe Mateta is perhaps the type of player that Saints are looking to sign this summer, but I don't think they will be looking to sign him at £35 million not even £25 million, but the fact he is our type of player is enough for the media to link us with subtle help from the agents.

So far this summer we have already been linked with about 30 players, even a goalkeeper when we already have 3 on the books, several weeks ago we had allegedly had a bid accepted and he was about to have his medical, three weeks later he is still a Fiorentina player and no one seems to be rushing to snap him up at the moment, this perhaps highlights how some rumours have little substance but can get to levels were they appear the truth.

Saints fans need to be patient, I think the club have identified their targets and are making their moves, but they are doing it quietly and under the radar, perhaps the Dragowski rumour was a stalking horse that although not started by Saints they didn't deny so they could do their business elsewhere without interuption.

The real transfer window business will start on July 1st don't hold your breath till then !

Photo: Action Images

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dirk_doone added 11:32 - Jun 10
It's worth looking at this. Our transfer activity over the last few years looks remarkably similar to Cardiff, Huddersfield and Fulham's:


dirk_doone added 11:42 - Jun 10
Les Reed's role at the club was vastly overrated. He was never much more than a head salesman and PR spokesman (at least when things were going well. Ralph Krueger was wheeled out to take the flak when things were going badly).

The fact nobody had to be brought in to replace him shows how little he really did.

The key man responsible for finding the talented players was our head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell. The last off the Mitchell conveyor belt was van Dijk, who, even though he signed later, we were strongly linked with before Mitchell left. Mitchell's replacement and Les Reed's young protege, Ross Wilson, is nowhere near as good at the job. In fact the average fan could have done a better job than he has.

SaintNick added 12:34 - Jun 10
Dirk I think you overestimate Reed's role in some areas and underestimate it in others. you are right about Paul Mitchell he signed some key players, but he was only at the club for 2 1/ 2 years . Also who do you think recruited Mitchell in the first place, Reed's role between 2010 and 2017 was mainly about developing not only the structure including the black box system but also turning Staplewood into a state of the art training ground, this was Reed's project from start to finish and what he did well was getting the structure in place.

You are right so far no one has replaced him and the reason for that is that at the moment the entire infrastructure of the club is in place

If anything the role of head of recruitment is slightly overestimated, you are judging Mitchell on the key signings including Van Dijk, but if you have ever been to Staplewood and seen the system, the real trick is those who have to analyse the data of the players, prime the scouts and then present the dossier to the head of recruitment, Mitchell didnt spent hours travelling the continent looking at players it is the structure that does that and then the head of recruitment presents those that they feel fir the system to the manager who has the final say.

Ross Wlson is perhaps nowhere near as good as Mitchell, but since 2015 when he arrived we have still made some good signings, what has muddied the waters has been Boufal, Carrillo & Elyounoussi and to a certain degree they are all not bad players but just playing under managers whose system didnt really suit them,

Im not a great fan of Les Reed as a person, but he was a good organiser who knew about Sports Science and about recruiting the right people, in many respects he was the headmaster, he didnt actually get his hands dirty much with the day to day work, but he knew how to build the structure including those around them that did

legod7 added 12:43 - Jun 10
Getting back to the question of the player. He currently plays for Mainz who finished 12th in the Bundesliga last season. In all honesty why would he ever consider signing for a club who have finished in the bottom five of the Premiership for the last two seasons

Keesie66 added 13:12 - Jun 10
@legod7 because obviously Saints are a way more attractive proposition in the PL then Mains in the BL.... why the negativity...?

underweststand added 16:01 - Jun 10
NICK : I definitely agree with your paragraph about Les Reed.
If I'm not wrong(?)... LR travelled much of the World in his FA job prior to joining Saints, and put forward the structure for the present organisation and Academy.
Our organisation and Sport Science depts. are still envied by many - even 10 years on.

I admired the work that Cortese did in brokering the deal with Markus Liebherr, and his subsequent re-organisation of the club's 20th century structure, but on his own admisson knew little about the football world , and should have kept out of the " footballing side " of things but instead took advice from foreign contacts (agents) who put forward several expensive nondescript players whilst the majority of the squad that got us back into the Prem. cost less than £5 million, whilst the later signings of the likes of Mayuka, Ramirez Forran and Osvaldo) and did little to benefit to the team and put us even further in debt.

As you wrote, the "donkey work " behind the Black Box was an ongoing task for the staff , and it was Mitchell (as dept.head) who made the final decisions on who to buy.
The best scouting jobs are done by "football folk" around the countries, who go to games and don't just watch "the good bits" on You Tube links. If we only based our buying on their "good games and goals scored", we could sell Boufal for £100 million.

In the current player market...the £20 million price tag on Carrillo sums up what you get / don't get in return for such an outlay, especially when considering that players signed by the Top Six start with a £40/50 million price tag that guarantees NOTHING.
Such huge signings would be catastrophic for Saints' economy if they didn't work out.

Without re-running the old " Academy graduate list", getting good young players in -even for a highend fee, is better for Saints long-term planning, when they can be coached into something better over a period of years.

If we finish top half next season and better a few places in the following year, we will still have a squad average age 26/27 , who will be playing to the best of their abilities.
Unless Ralph can pull a surprise on everyone and get us into a Euro place, we should concentrate on winning a Cup, and try to carry that form over into Prem. games.

Let £40/50 million players go to clubs who can afford to live with a "bad deal"- we can't.


SaintBrock added 18:47 - Jun 10
Not much evidence yet of Hutch's pulling power. If all the hype was to be believed all his ex-players in the Bundesliga should be calling him!

saintmark1976 added 20:29 - Jun 10
Nick,any further news about Che Adams or is there just a temporary cease fire in the bidding war?

Jesus_02 added 02:47 - Jun 11
"overall most of the players we signed turned out reasonably well" - absolutely bewildered by that statement TBH

bstokesaint added 13:43 - Jun 11
I can’t help get nervous when we mention the words “record signing”. We have bought some seriously average players for mega bucks. I prefer it when we buy slightly cheaper players with plenty of potential and without the ego. Appreciate it’s a balancing act in then keeping those players mind. I’d rather see us buy 3-4 really good prospects then blow the budget on a couple of flops.

LoisDeem added 09:58 - Jun 21
The fact Les Reed was the arch pantomime villain in a catalogue of largely unchecked errors probably kept Krueger in his position at least a year too long, with the typical boardroom treachery one of his last acts.
Methinks Saints are still in need of a commanding and totemic figure to ensure Hassenhutl's important message and ethos is relayed as thoroughly up to Gao as it doubtless will be onto the pitch and in the stands. In the meantime, we need to convey our support for Ralphs way noisily and respectfully to a hopefully receptive and inscrutable ear.

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