Southampton XI with Man Utd and Liverpool stars could have challenged in the Premier League

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Southampton have become notorious for selling their best talent to bigger clubs over the years, and only Saints know where they could have been now had they kept their stars

Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk both arrived at Liverpool from Southampton for club-record fees
Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk both arrived at Liverpool from Southampton for club-record fees

The imbalance at the top in the Premier League means that smaller clubs such as Southampton have to rely on player sales to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United to build for their future.

The South Coast outfit have never finished higher than than sixth in a Premier League campaign, when they managed to qualify for Europe under Ronald Koeman in 2015-16. And for the most part, the reason behind their struggle to keep up the momentum over the years has been the loss of several key players.

One can only imagine what the Saints could have done if they had kept that team together, and also the manager too, after Koeman left to take over at Everton. Southampton clearly did not want to sell Virgil van Dijk, who had become a colossus at the back under Koeman and his successor Claude Puel.







Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for £ 75m
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Image:

Getty Images)

But the reality was that the Dutchman had his sights set on bigger things with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all interested in signing him – and eventually, it was the Reds who stumped up a huge £ 75million fee in January 2018. Likewise, some errors were made with their recruitment, with £ 19m spent on striker Guido Carillo, who failed to score a single goal in his 10 appearances for the club.

The continuous conveyer belt of talented Southampton players that headed to Anfield over the years meant that Southampton were able to cash in on their stars at a premium, collecting seven-figure fees for Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert . With them in the side, it is conceivable that they could have challenged for a top-four place or even more.

Luke Shaw was sold for £ 27m to Manchester United in 2014 at the age of 18 and has gone on to feature heavily for the Red Devils, as well as for England. The full-back has struggled with injuries, hampering his career, but at one stage at his peak level in 2020 he was one of the best in the country.

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Have Your Say! Where do you think Southampton could have finished if they kept their best players rather than selling? Comment below.






Adam Lallana and Gareth Bale came through the Southampton academy before moving on to bigger clubs

Even in the early days of 2006, it was still the same process. Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott had both emerged from the Saints’ academy before heading to north London with Tottenham and Arsenal respectively. Bale’s success at Spurs propelled him into the limelight and he earned a world-record £ 85m transfer to Real Madrid, where he won five Champions League trophies and three La Liga titles.

With the Welsh wing wizard on their side, the sky would have been the limit. But there are some aspects which must be taken into consideration with the benefit of hindsight, given that Bale was a left-back when he left for Spurs at the age of just 17. It was there under Harry Redknapp where he transformed into one of the most devastating wingers in world football, so the rule does not always apply.

For Southampton fans, there is a general acceptance that their club will always operate in the same manner to stay afloat. But after finishing in the bottom half of the table in each of the last five seasons, and 15th in 2021-22, the supporters could be forgiven for wondering what could have been if they had retained the services of their former stars.

A selected former Southampton XI: Gazzaniga; Clyne, Lovren, Van Dijk, Shaw; Lallana, Wanyama, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott, Mane, Bale.

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