It’s been a tough few years for Southampton fans. Last year saw the Saints celebrate a decade in the Premier League and over that time they’ve gone on to produce some genuinely world-class players, play at Wembley and in Europe, as well as provide us with some great memories. However, it looks as if their time in England’s top flight is coming to an end.
Indeed, Southampton are rooted bottom of the table in 20th at the time of writing and bar a minor miracle which stuns relegation odds Premier League into silence, it looks as if they’ll be spending next season in the Championship. It’s been a tough break on the South Coast, but the club simply haven’t been able to sustain their transfer model of selling to buy, and there are only so many times you can replace the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic before you flirt with relegation.
Three different managers have been unable to turn Southampton’s fortunes around this term and while Rubén Selles looks to have come to terms with facing the drop, it means starting from scratch and the club losing some key players. While they might be able to keep some of the team’s spine, their best players will want to remain in the Premier League and likely have a number of suitors. With that in mind, read on as we look at where some of Southampton’s players could end up next season.
While Armel Bella-Kotchap has been limited to just 25 appearances in all competitions this season, the German centre-back has surely done enough to convince a Premier League club to come in for him if the Saints go down. At just 21 years old, he has all the makings of a top defender, but with Nathan Jones preferring Duje Ćaleta-Car, Lyanco and Mohammed Salisu, another linked with a move away, Bella-Kotchap can hardly be blamed for the position Southampton find themselves in.
It looks as if relegation will end James Ward-Prowse’s time with the club. The captain has developed through the Southampton academy and has carried his side on his back at times when the going got tough. You feel if he were to play for a more favourable club there’s a chance he can get in the England team, and with relegation looming the 28-year-old declined to comment on his future, but with the likes of West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur interested, you’d expect him to move on.
“The club know my thoughts and my position in terms of what I want to achieve in my career,” he said. “Nothing has changed with that despite our position in the league. I want to give my all for this football club and whenever I put this shirt on I give 100 per cent.
“That’s no different whether we lose our next game or win it, it won’t change who I am as a person and that’s giving everything for this club.”
While Che Adams has struggled in front of goal this season, January addition Carlos Alcaraz has been the one saving grace in the Saints’ attack. Despite their poor showing in the league the Southampton scouts have demonstrated their fantastic recruitment, bringing the Argentinian in from Racing Club, and it looked as if Alcaraz was key to survival at St Marys. While his goals haven’t been enough alone, there will likely be a number of Premier League clubs interested if he decides to leave, although he could be considering staying and becoming the club’s main man in the Championship.