Southampton worries pile up amid Van Dijk rumours

Year after year, impressive recruitment allows Southampton to remain a top half Premier League side, often pushing for Europe.

Despite losing the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schniederlin, Nathaniel Clyne and many more over the past few seasons, they have consistently improved upon their league position each season.

However, this time, their luck seems to have run out.

After losing Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and boss Ronald Koeman in the summer, the Saints have found goals hard to come by this season.

In 2015/16, the form of Shane Long throughout, added to a few goals from Pelle and an impressive late flourish from Mane saw Saints finish as one of the higher scoring clubs in the league, but with the lack of goals from the former and the departures of the latter, the goals have dried up.

Charlie Austin has had a unspectacular start to the season and has now been side-lined through injury, and new-signing Nathan Redmond has been inconsistent, whilst Jay Rodriguez, finally back from injury, has hardly set the league alight with three goals.

What has kept Southampton tenth in the table up until now has been their solid back four of Cedric, Jose Fonte, Virgil Van Dijk and Ryan Bertrand, but with Fonte rumoured to be on his way to Manchester United and Van Dijk also subject of interest from a number of top clubs, their main assets in the squad could depart, leaving them without much hope.

Van Dijk, who signed from Celtic in 2015 for a fee of around £13 million, is being courted by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, and it’s easy to see why.

The Dutch defender, who won Southampton’s player of the season award in 2016 is a calm and composed defender, possessing elegance similar to players such as John Stones and Gerard Pique.

His repertoire features his impressive range of passing, his excellent reading of the game, and his aerial ability which is second to none, coming handy in both defence and attack.

Going forward, he has scored three goals this season, the same as striker Nathan Redmond, and more than Shane Long, and whilst he has played as a centre-back for his whole career so far, his understanding of the game and his technical ability suggests that he could play in a role further forward, possibly as a holding midfielder.

The only reason to suggest that he isn’t a world-class defender already is the fact that we are yet to see how he adapts to a variety of tactical instructions, and maybe a move to the Etihad to play under Pep Guardiola would suit him.

He also seems ready-made to be a Barcelona player, with his ability on the ball appearing to be a perfect fit for the Catalan champions, whilst a move to title favourites Chelsea could also help his development, although he could struggle for game time.

Whether he stays or goes, Southampton aren’t in a healthy situation, but fans at St Mary’s will be praying that he stays nevertheless – and with good reason.

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