So here’s the team Southampton could have had: Forster, Clyne, Lovren, Alderweireld, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Bale.
Good enough to win the league? Maybe. (Amusingly there is not even room for Theo Walcott).
And it’s a conveyor belt of talent that just keeps regenerating. It doesn’t matter how many top class players the Saints sell; others seem to seamlessly take their place.
And this has given Chelsea an idea. Just buy Southampton’s entire team and wait patiently for them to form into a title-winning outfit. Genius.
The Blues are starting with the defence. The Sunday Express reports that Antonio Conte is targeting Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares in a triple £150m swoop this month.
In other words, he wants Saints’ entire backline, with the exception of Jack Stephens (who the Blues will probably sign in a couple of years) and Maya Yoshida. Obviously, Chelsea aren’t going to buy Maya Yoshida.
Conte is also planning to spend an extra £50m adding one of the former Saints mentioned above, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as Danny Drinkwater, who has no connection to Southampton.
In addition, according to the Sunday Times, Conte wants yet another player from that list above – Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, for whom the Blues are said to have made an “enquiry”.
All in all it’s an unorthodox transfer strategy, but it’s not really that dissimilar to the one Liverpool have been following for the past few years.
South American sagas
Currently, the Reds are more preoccupied with batting off bids for Philippe Coutinho. The next one on its way from Barcelona, according to the Express, is £130m. Although the Times says the Catalan giants are still hopeful of succeeding with their most recent offer of £118m, and have given the Anfield side a deadline of tonight to accept it.
We should also, with a due sense of exhaustion and dread, mention Alexis Sanchez. The Sunday Mirror says Manchester City are preparing a £70m offer for the Arsenal forward, although they seem to have been “preparing” this bid for about three months and nothing has happened.
While we’re on the subject of tedious South American sagas, the Mail on Sunday claims that Atletico Madrid are willing to bid £50m for Chelsea outcast Diego Costa – which is a full £20m more than they were apparently willing to bid yesterday.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are “ready to battle” to sign Paris Saint-Germain winger Julian Draxler, who has become surplus to requirements at the Parc des Princes since PSG started going silly in the transfer market (Mirror). At a reported fee of £32m, the German would surely be one of the better value purchases of the summer.
Elsewhere, PSG are set to “finally” tie up the £180m signing of Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe (Mundo Deportivo), Man City have had a £4.5m bid rejected by Fenerbahce for 18-year-old Turkish “wonderkid” Oguz Kagan Gucterkin (Sun on Sunday) and Newcastle are plotting a “sensational swoop” to re-sign big Andy Carroll from West Ham on an “emotional season-long loan” (Mirror). The main emotion being the tears of regret on Rafa Benitez’s face when Andy rolls his ankle on his debut.