Southampton’s growth in recent years has been built on the foundations of a successful youth system. However, with the help of former manager Mauricio Pochettino and current boss Ronald Koeman, the Saints’ academy products have been joined by some impressive imports from around Europe.
Upon Koeman’s appointment at St.Mary’s last summer, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers all left the club, to be replaced with the likes of Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic, all of whom impressed during their debut campaigns.
After a remarkable seventh place finish last term, the south coast club have lost yet more of their star performers with Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin moving north to join Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Despite the lack of big names coming in to replace them, fans now know to have faith in their manager and his scouting team.
Former Fulham goalkeeper Martin Stekelenburg is well known to fans of English football but Jordie Clasie, Cedric Soares, Cuco Martina and Juanmi will all have their Premier League baptisms next season and here is what you might expect from Southampton’s new arrivals.
The Saints’ most high profile signing this summer, Clasie joins from Feyenoord for £8 million. He made six assists from a deep lying playmaker role for the Eredivisie side last season and has made 11 appearances for Holland. He was a part of Louis Van Gaal’s world cup squad last summer.
Schooled in the Varkenoord academy since the age of nine, the midfielder is technically excellent and his passing range means he should be a fitting replacement for Morgan Schneiderlin. Clasie has already played with Graziano Pelle, and the Italian striker will no doubt be as pleased as anyone at his arrival.
The 24-year-old likes to take control of games and his ability to maintain possession has earned him the label ‘Dutch Xavi’. Big things should be expected of Southampton’s new midfield general next season.
In anticipation of Nathaniel Clyne’s departure to Anfield, Koeman recruited Soares from Sporting Lisbon for £4.7 million.
Although born in Germany, the highly sought after fullback has been capped four times by Portugal, but has also played 72 games for his country at youth level. Soares developed his talents in the famed Sporting Lisbon academy since joining as an 8-year-old.
An attack-minded right back, Southampton fans can expect plenty of quality crosses, clever tricks and a few long-range efforts from the 23-year-old.
Signed from FC Twente, Martina can play anywhere across the back line as well as defensive midfield. Despite being born in Rotterdam, the 25-year-old is the captain of the Curacao national team, coached by Patrick Kluivert.
Martina grew up playing for the Feyenoord youth team before starting his professional career with RBC Roosendaal. Before his arrival at Southampton, he made 48 appearances for FC Twente over the course of two seasons.
The 6ft 1ins defender has only been handed a two-year deal and will have to prove himself to Ronald Koeman if he is to earn a longer stay at St. Mary’s. With Ryan Bertrand currently sidelined through injury, the opportunity is there for Martina to make claims for a starting berth early on.
Fans shouldn’t expect him to be as much of an attacking threat as Bertrand but his versatility will be important as Southampton attempt to balance playing in the Europa League with domestic competitions.
Malaga’s youngest ever goal-scorer at the age of just 16, he has since gone on to score 18 times for the Spanish club. Juanmi was part of the Spain U-19 team that won two consecutive European championships in 2011 and 2012. Now 22, the pint-sized forward has been capped once by the senior team.
Last season, he scored eight goals for Malaga, including the winner in an away victory against Barcelona. Juanmi is equally adept at playing in any position across the front three, as well as just off the main striker.
He is quick, has good close control and has been tipped to make a big impact for the Saints next season.