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Watt View - Saints Starting The Transfer Window As The Mean To Go On
Thursday, 3rd Sep 2020 07:10 by Matt Watts

A flurry of ins and outs at St Mary's has shown Saints are being proactive in the transfer window as they look to improve the balance of the squad.

This week saw the departures of midfielders Harrison Reed and Mario Lemina to Premier League new boys Fulham for a reported £6 million and season-long loan respectively.

Reed's exit is tinged with disappointment for me though.

Having risen through the youth ranks, he was part of the under-21 Premier League Cup winning team in 2015 and represented England at under-19 and under-20 levels.

Unfortunately, however, this success didn't transfer to the first team, with him only managing 17 appearances between 2013 and 2020 – less than he made in single seasons on loan at Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers and Fulham.

A tenacious and fiery but composed and classy individual, I felt Reed had all the ability and the famous Southampton footballing education to become a mainstay at St Mary's – but it just never happened for him.

And it is safe to say his career highlights to-date have come away from Saints – his first career goal was for the Canaries in 2017 and he secured promotion from the Championship with Fulham at Wembley last month having been one of the Cottagers‘ stand-out performers of the season.

Given Reed is almost a carbon copy of his new boss, Scott Parker, in terms of style of play and ferociousness on the pitch, the permanent move to Craven Cottage is no doubt the right one for him given his lack of opportunities at St Mary’s.

I, for one, am sorry to see him depart and to not have seen more of him in the red and white, but I wish him all the best and hope - and am also confident - he will go on to have a successful Premier League career from this point onwards.

With Lemina, however, we saw only glimpses of the player he could have been after his £15.4 million move from Juventus in 2017, but he certainly had the chances to demonstrate his offering.

But maybe the fact he was signed permanently by the Old Lady on a four-year deal in April 2016 and sold to Saints less than a year later indicated the player was not the man Juve thought they had bagged.

The fact Lemina actually played more games for Saints (46) than at any of his three previous clubs - Juventus (29), Marseille (41) and Lorient (14) - also raises questions both about the player’s commitment as well as his ability to remain in favour based on performance.

Given in July the Gabon international had told Galatasaray fans, where he had been on a season-long loan, that "I love you heartily and wish to see you again. This story is not over here”, a move in some form was a certainty whether it was to be back at the Türk Telekom Stadium or not.

His move alongside Reed was a logical one for both the club and the player and maybe it will he the trigger for a different Lemina to grace the Premier League than the one who failed to match up to the expectations placed upon him during his time with Saints.

With neither of these two likely to feature in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s plans, moving them on opens up doors to more inward bound transfer activity.

Following the recently-completed Pierre-Emile Højbjerg switch to Tottenham, it also means recruitment in the defensive midfield area is certainly on the horizon.

With Reed and Lemina out the door, Saints have hopefully started as they mean to go on and will now look to wrap up loan or permanent deals for central defender Wesley Hoedt and striker Guido Carillo.

That will be important to not only bolster funds and reduce the wage bill but to improve the balance of a squad which now looks capable of progressing up the table.

With the new season fast approaching, the sooner the better in my view despite the window remaining open until 5 October.

Photo: Action Images

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aceofthebase added 08:40 - Sep 3
Lemina was reported to be injured with a stomach problem that kept him out of the team for months and when recovered was out of favour and hardly got a game
Many say he was lazy but most would be with this sort of illness.
However was he really injured or ill?
Nick you seem to get the inside stories so what went on.

SaintBrock added 10:06 - Sep 3
Don't set your hopes too high, Nick

aspensaint added 10:55 - Sep 3
Where is Salisu? He is not in the latest training gallery, so is he injured , quarantining or what?

GeordieSaint added 11:21 - Sep 3
I think it is looking good. A new central midfielder leaves us with 2 options for every position with a nice blend of experience and up and coming young players. The system looks settled now as does the first team. To get rid of PEH and sign two defenders at only a deficit of 7-8 million seems good business particularly as Walker Peters is clearly a good player who will settle in. However, if the new centre back solves the issues at the back and Ings can stay fit it could be a really exciting season.

ElijahK added 11:43 - Sep 3
I mean the main position we REALLY NEED to get (hopefully before the season starts, but it certainly is cutting it close) is another central midfielder as we’re sooo low in that position as we’ve only got Prowse, Smallbone and Romeu, but we can’t put too Mitch pressure on Smallbone as he’s still quite young and we’re certainly going to have issues if one of them get injured and we don’t get a replacement! I mean other than a centre midfielder we’re out too desperate in other positions as I’d of though that maybe another winger and centre/full back would do. But until we get this centre midfielder we really shouldn’t be looking at anyone else!

WestSussexSaint added 13:36 - Sep 3
To Aspensaints question and a view more generally, I have heard reports that Salisu is not ready for first team action and won’t be for a number of weeks. I think this is a fitness issue rather than injury or quarantining, and it is not really a surprise given the high press and energetic style Ralph expects from his team. Salisu is on an individual training program to get up to speed which is why we haven’t seen him with first team photos or the recent friendlies. It doesn’t look like Salisu will be the immediate fix for CB we need.

As a result of the above I expect Saints to sign another CB if possible and we have seen various options that the club are reported to be interested in. As such I think the CM signing may not be as high a priority as CB. If a CB is signed then Stephens could act as cover in the holding midfielder role.

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