Southampton’s early moves could see them challenge for Europe next season

Having already signed Dejan Lovren, Southampton are planning moves for Ever Banega and Gary Hooper, and if they get their men, the Saints should be safely inside the top ten next season.

Almost exactly a year ago, Southampton’s chances of survival in their first season back in the Premier League were handed a major blow with the announcement of a fixture list that could have been designed by their fiercest rivals. Despite that nightmare start, they came back strongly under Nigel Adkins, before Mauricio Pochettino took on the baton to see the Saints to 14th place and safety in the league.

However Southampton have not rested on their laurels for long, already completing the signing of 23-year-old defender Dejan Lovren, and apparently in the hunt for both Ever Banega and Gary Hooper as they attempt to reshape their squad for next season.

Moving early in the transfer window is an often underrated virtue, and if Southampton could complete this trio of signings quickly they could begin their pre-season with a squad capable of challenging for a European place next season.

Lovren could be the key signing, a young and talented defender to shore up what was a porous backline for most of last season. The Croatian cost Southampton £6.8million, an indication they will not be shy about splashing out on the right players this summer.

Hooper is clearly being targeted in an attempt to reduce pressure on Rickie Lambert, who was the only Southampton player to reach double figures last season. At 25, the Celtic man also fits the bill as a young player keen to prove himself in the Premier League after an excellent few seasons in Scotland, and could be a fine signing at around £8million.

Southampton are also apparently considering a £7.6million bid for Ever Banega, with the 24-year-old Argentine a player that Pochettino has coveted since his time at Espanyol. Southampton already have several excellent midfielders on their books, but Banega could give them some extra impetus going forward, and has the all-round game to be a success in the Premier League.

Southampton already have plenty of excellent young players, with Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, Jack Cork, Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez standing out last season along with the experienced Lambert, and adding in these three players could well see them in the mix for a European place next season.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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