Italian striker Pelle looked as if he was the striker to lead the South Coast club to Europe following his arrival at St Mary’s, having scored 10 goals in his first 13 games following his summer transfer.
He seemed to possess a natural goalscoring instinct, but it appears as if he has forgotten how to find the back of the net in the second half of the campaign, having not netted since the middle of December.
Whilst Pelle’s lack of form could be excused due to being in his debut season in the Premier League, his signing should put criticism of the Saints coaching team for not identifying that a back-up striker was a necessity. Behind Pelle, Sadio Mane has six goals in the league, making him the club’s second highest scorer.
It is not necessary for there to be one great striker at a club chasing the top of the table, but a collection of players who can chip in with goals.
Admittedly, the club had their summer transfer plans ruined by the long-term injury suffered by Jay Rodriguez, who likely would have shared striking duties with Pelle. The 25-year-old netted 15 goals in 33 Premier League fixtures last term under Mauricio Pochettino, and there is a strong chance that he would have repeated such a feat this term, with Koeman's high-pressing play sharing many of the same traits as the Argentine coach's.
The coaching staff were aware of this injury, but still only looked to sign one out-and-out striker in the summer. Perhaps they thought the Englishman would recover earlier in the season, and be available for selection, although even that represents a risk, with there being no knowledge as to whether the injury will mean he is not as good a player when he does recover.
It is this need to sign a top level striker that the Saints must focus upon in the summer if they intend to make the step up actual Champions League qualifiers.
There are few top-class strikers currently available on the market, especially for a club with no European football to play in next season, and that will make Southampton’s task even harder. Rodriguez should be back in training before the end of the campaign meaning that he has an entire pre-season to his name, but Koeman should still be looking at a forward in case a similar injury situation happens again, and he is once again left with just one striker on the books - who may be as out of form as Pelle currently is.
The high-flying club need to ensure they have a consistent goalscorer in their ranks, and Ronald Koeman’s moves in the summer transfer market could vitally dictate the future of Southampton.