Southampton’s life as a mid-table club has a certain predictable rhythm to it. Sell a star, use the profit from his sale to reinvest in three or four promising signings, wait for one to prove they’re good enough to play for a top side and then sell him on and reinvest again.
Or at least that’s been the way of things until this summer, with the Saints having the ability—the available playing time that the bigger clubs lack, mainly—to gamble on a small handful of promising signings but lacking the funds to grow beyond that without selling a star each time they uncover one.
“None are for sale,” was how Les Reed, Southampton’s head of football development, responded when Sky Sports pressed him today on whether the club would repeat the pattern once again this summer. “I can’t make it any plainer than that, and that’s the way we mean to go forward.”
If Southampton manage to hold firm to that, it will mark a significant change in their approach in the face of strong interest for not just Virgil van Dijk but also Cederic Soares and Ryan Bertrand, but Reed insists that is what they plan to do—to add players rather than subtract or swap.
Whether Southampton can do that in an increasingly inflated transfer market without first selling remains to be seen, but it appears the club believe they have reached a point where they’re ready to make a push to join or perhaps even pass Everton in competing for the Europa League places.
It’s also not certain what will happen if their wanted players begin to push for moves away from the club—if Van Dijk or Soares hand in a transfer request. For now, though, it’s a changed approach; a new-look Southampton. And that’s bad news for Liverpool’s Van Dijk hopes.
“We don’t believe we need to turn over players every year just to freshen things up,” Reed added. “We’ve got a strong squad now and it should be about adding players, bringing in more value and power.”