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Roll up! Roll up! For the great Saints guessing game
NO wonder it’s regularly the most read story on the Daily Echo’s website.
The transfer window rumours list has been running on this site ever since Saints celebrated their second successive promotion just over a fortnight ago.
Saints supporters are no different to any other football fans: they love debating who their club might sign.
It’s the same every summer, or every January, and it doesn’t really matter where the team is in the league.
For Saints, though, the need to strengthen over the coming weeks is more obvious than ever.
The size of their challenge is a huge one.
Nigel Adkins’ men surprised most people – myself included – with the way they took the Championship by storm just a season after climbing out of the third division.
Adkins only needed to add a few new faces in 2011/12, and only three were regulars – Danny Fox, Jack Cork and Jos Hooiveld.
Apart from that, it was the same men, minus Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, who had taken Saints out of League 1.
But all the fans will expect more signings this summer, and that is why they are always reading the transfer rumours updates.
Most of the players linked with a move to St Mary’s are fairly sensible suggestions.
It is not hard to link players at clubs who have gone down from the Premier with clubs that have been elevated into the elite.
Hence, Blackburn pair Yakubu and Scott Dan, Bolton duo Zat Knight and Mark Davies, and Wolves’ Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis are all supposedly on Saints’ wanted list.
Also, players at clubs who have just missed going up could be on the radar.
Birmingham defender Curtis Davies is one such player, and City’s precarious financial position could also come into play here as well as the player’s own ambitions.
Blackpool winger Matt Phillips is another link, and speculation surrounding his future will intensify if the Tangerines lose this weekend’s Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Most Saints fans will know where their squad needs strengthening, and that is backed up by the players linked so far – and we’re only in mid-May!
There was a lack of genuine pace in the side last season, so the likes of wingers Jarvis and Phillips are straight-forward links.
Of almost 2,000 Saints fans who voted in an Echo online poll recently, over 40 per cent said they would like Adkins to strengthen the defence more than any other department.
There is a lack of Premiership experience among Adkins’ centre halves, assuming Radhi Jadhi is not offered a new contract this summer.
That is why Saints have been linked with Davies, Whitbread – who would be available on a free – and Knight, for all three have knowledge of the top flight.
With all the summer speculation, we also need to factor in Adkins himself.
He has shown a tendency to go for players he knows well. Hence he has brought three of his former Scunthorpe players to St Mary’s: Billy Sharp, Jack Cork and Jonathan Forte. Perhaps he might, therefore, be interested in the likes of Coventry keeper Joe Murphy and Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury, both of whom were with him at Scunny – the latter, like Cork, on loan.
Lansbury has just finished another loan spell, this time at Norwich.
Adkins was also interested in another ex-Iron colleague, Celtic’s Gary Hooper, during the last January transfer window, but the latter’s 29 goals this season has probably brought him to the attention of much bigger fish than Saints.
Besides, Hooper is not necessarily what Saints need if they are looking to further enhance their striking options.
There is still no obvious deputy for talisman Rickie Lambert, which is no doubt why Saints are being linked to the likes of Yakubu, a powerful frontman, and Burnley’s Jay Rodriguez.
Rodriguez would cost a lot, however, and would he want to join a club where he is not guaranteed a starting place?
The most left-field bit of Saints’ related speculation so far has linked them with Reall Vallecano’s goalscoring midfielder Michu.
Saints are not short of central midfielders, but none have proved regular goalscorers in the Championship.
Michu has almost 20 for his La Liga club in 2011/12, and, no doubt thanks to chairman Nicole Cortese’s overseas contacts, Saints have brought in some foreign talent since Markus Liebherr’s takeover in the form of Papa Waigo, Guly do Prado and Tadanari Lee.
Michu, though, was apparently wanted by Real Madrid last summer so it would be a huge coup if the speculation surrounding him proved to be correct.