Southampton’s summer transfer window could end with a bang, as the club reportedly set their sights on 24 year old Napoli striker Manolo Gabbiadini
By now, it should be predictable, if a bit nerve-wracking: Southampton’s summer opens with a departing manager and a handful of key players.
The fans panic.
Prospect names great and small are thrown around the media and the innumerable forums in which the faithful congregate.
At some point, a young, spirited manager of little pedigree in the English game is appointed.
The signings begin to trickle in. They are rarely the type to make headlines. Ten million here, another five there, a timely free somewhere else.
Young players, unproven, but with energy and the ability to adapt. Maybe a diamond in the rough from a smaller club gets his chance to show his stuff on the grand Premier League stage.
Maybe a one-time wunderkind, sidelined by a club with more stars than places to put them, gets a new lease on life.
The fans will grumble, as fans do. The familiar faces, known quantities, are gone. These newcomers, interlopers, have yet to prove they’re up to the task.
Finally, the window ticks down, and at the closing moments, Southampton pulls off a small coup.
A marquee signing, a player the fans feel comfortable staking their future on, a void filled and exceeded.
All is forgiven. We march on.
Up til now, Southampton’s summer transfer window has stuck to the script.
The club lost Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle. Southampton brought in Nathan Redmond and Pierre Hojbjerg to try to fill those voids, while plumbing the depths of the academy and conducting some smooth buys to shore up the club’s defensive depth.
But the marquee signing, the striker to replace Mane, remains missing.
Multiple sources report that Southampton have initiated contact with Napoli over striker Manolo Gabbiadini. If true, this would be the marquee that Southampton need to truly consider this summer a success. Gabbiadini’s work rate from last year was truly impressive, averaging a goal for every 108.8 minutes played. That’s miles better than Mane, who saw a goal every 237 minutes.
While the 24 year old Italian spent a month out with an injury, this didn’t seem to impact him too heavily. In his first return to the pitch, Gabbiadini scored in the 71st minute to seal his team’s 5-1 victory over Frosinone.
The main detractors to a possible Southampton move are probably going to be work rate and of course money.
As impressive as his last year’s figure was, Gabbiadini got most of his playing time from off the bench; the knee injury certainly didn’t help that. While all seems well right now, knees are a risky business, and there’s no telling if he’ll be capable of playing the long haul Southampton manager Claude Puel will be faced with.
Money is also going to be an issue. Stoke City were reportedly in for him earlier this summer to the tune of £19.6m, which came to nothing. With the Diafra Sakho-Saido Berahino-Stoke merry-go-round stalled, the Potters may take another pass at the Neapolitan rather than wait on the Baggies to sort out their affairs.
West Ham, too, are entering desperation territory for strikers after a litany of rejections, and are generally more keen to splash cash than the notoriously tight-fisted Southampton board.
Time will tell whether the Gabbiadini story ends up with the man in Southampton stripes, or confined to the annual ash-heap of rumours, pipe-dreams and almost-theres. But time is running out, and it would cheer many a Southampton supporter to see a new 20 million dollar man take to the pitch at St. Mary’s come Saturday.