Former Southampton striker Gordon Watson believes it would be a gamble for any club to sign Jay Rodriguez in this transfer window, following the 25-year-old’s knee injury at the end of last season.
Arriving from Burnley in 2012, Rodriguez enjoyed a stellar 2013-14 campaign for the Saints, scoring 15 goals in 33 Premier League games to help the club to an eighth-place finish, while also earning his first England cap in November.
However, the frontman ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during a match in April, ruling him out of the World Cup squad, and isn’t set to return to full fitness until well into the season.
Nevertheless, Rodriguez has still been touted a potential candidate to join Southampton’s remarkable summer exodus, with both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur linked to his signature, but Watson thinks either would be taking a huge risk.
‘I think he’d probably be a good fit for Liverpool, provided he’s the same Jay Rodriguez prior to the injury,’ he told Sky Sports News Radio.
‘A lot of people just look at these players because Southampton have done so well, but they’ve only done well for one top-flight season, remember.
‘I would say that you’d have to see how Jay was once he’s fully recovered from what was a really serious knee injury,’ he added.
‘If someone wishes to purchase a player who there’s some fitness concerns with then the gamble’s on the purchasing club, not the selling, so I’d be very surprised if anyone was to take Jay before he’s come back and put a run of games together.’
With Calum Chambers’ recent £16million departure to Arsenal, Southampton have now seen five first-teamers leave the club this summer, with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all leaving for Liverpool for a combined £48 million, and left-back Luke Shaw moving to Manchester United for around £30million.
After Liverpool’s £8.5 million move for Loic Remy recently collapsed due to a failed medical, Rodriguez has been tipped as a potential candidate to join his trio of teammates at Anfield, with Brendan Rodgers still on the lookout for addition firepower upfront.
In addition, he and Morgan Schneiderlin have also been rumoured to be linking up with former Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, the latter having handed in a transfer request at the club, despite chairman Ralph Krueger moving to quash the odds on their departures earlier this week.
Rodriguez’s knee therefore doesn’t appear to have been a big stumbling block to potential suitors thus far, but whether it will become one if reported interest progresses further down the line remains to be seen.
That said, with the only additions to Southampton’s depleted squad so for being Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand, and Eredivisie pair Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle, new boss Ronald Koeman will be doing all he can to keep hold of his star marksman, in the hopes that he can make a quicker comeback than expected.