A few months ago this assessment would have probably been far kinder on the Saints squad. But a dismal end to the saeson showcased some hard truths and ahead of a massive transfer window - the first summer under Sport Republic - Southampton have to be ruthless with their business.

We take a look at the players Saints must keep as well as those who might be seeing their time at St Mary’s coming to an end…

Players To Build Around

Those who currently do or have the potential to lead the team forward.

James Ward-Prowse

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 94%

Years Left on Contract: Four

In the least surprising and most obvious decision on this list, Southampton must do absolutely everything possible to keep and build around their captain. The heart of this team, Ward-Prowse enjoyed possibly his finest season thus far for Southampton, scoring ten league goals and adding five assists.

His free-kicks have taken the plaudits - understandably - but Ward-Prowse is much more than just a set-piece specialist as he proved time and time again this season. A nomination for Premier League Player of the Season was noteworthy recognition for a player that seemed to rally when his side’s form collapsed. 

Daily Echo: Saints captain Ward-Prowse. Image by: PASaints captain Ward-Prowse. Image by: PA

There will no doubt be interest in Saints’ talisman this summer but selling just shouldn’t be an option. Replacing their best player and driving force - even with big money to spend - would be no easy feat at all.

Mohamed Salisu

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 87%

Years Left on Contract: Two

At the halfway point of the season, Salisu would have been an easy choice on par with Ward-Prowse. Following a monstrous performance against Manchester City to cap off a terrific few months for Salisu, the centre-back was linked with some of the biggest clubs in the world.

But whether it was the lingering effects of a hamstring problem picked up in February or just a lack of confidence, the 22-year-old’s form cratered in the second half of the season. Fasting for Ramadan no doubt presented a major challenge as well - something he spoke about recently.

There are warning signs related to Salisu’s positioning and decision-making, but he still displayed enough to believe he should be an influential member of Saints’ rebuild. It’s important to keep in mind that the Ghanaian is still just 23-years-old and playing in a position where players frequently peak later in their careers. Rather than consider moving on, Saints should build around Salisu and partner him with a calm and experienced presence to help guide his development.

Kyle Walker-Peters

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 77%

Years Left on Contract: Three

This season has been quite the ride for Walker-Peters. After surprisingly starting as back up to Tino Livramento, Walker-Peters fought his way into the side at left-back where he cemented his place despite the presence of new signing Romain Perraud.

Daily Echo: Walker-Peters in action for Saints. Image by: Stuart MartinWalker-Peters in action for Saints. Image by: Stuart Martin

Highlights of a hugely impressive campaign included his first Saints goal against Manchester City as well as a maiden call-up to the England squad in March. Capable of playing on either flank - and doing both at an extremely high level - Walker-Peters is a real positive from a season that dropped off badly.

Tino Livramento

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 64%

Years Left on Contract: Four

An absolute revelation on the South Coast, Livramento took the Premier League by storm following his move from Chelsea. A regular from virtually the first day he stepped foot at St Mary’s, Livramento represents the very best of Southampton’s transfer policy of targeting young players with room to grow.

Of course, the obvious dark cloud on Livramento’s season is the serious ACL injury suffered at Brighton last month. Expected to be sidelined until 2023, Livramento can’t be part of Saints’ immediate planning but at 19-years-old, he will still have a significant role in the medium and long-term future of this team.

The Helpers

Those who have a positive impact and should play a notable role but aren’t necessarily game changers.

Romain Perraud

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 48%

Years Left on Contract: Three

Perraud’s own emergence was overshadowed by that of Livramento and Walker-Peters but the third full-back showed more than enough promise in his first season of Premier League football.

Arriving from Brest last summer, Perraud was on the bench for 12 of the first 18 league games but worked his way into the side over the winter months and played 13 of the next 18 before suffering a leg fracture prior to the penultimate game of the season. Expected to return in five-six weeks, Perraud should be ready to go for pre-season and with Livramento sidelined for the first few months of the season at least, the Frenchman will need to step up in a fairly big way.

Stuart Armstrong

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 43%

Years Left on Contract: Two

December 24, 2019: The last time Southampton won a Premier League match without Stuart Armstrong in the team. That’s more than 900 days since Saints were victorious without their reliable Scotsman but at 30-years-old and less than 50% of his side’s minutes, Armstrong falls below the tier of players who can really carry their team.

Daily Echo: Armstrong celebrates scoring against Everton. Image by: Stuart MartinArmstrong celebrates scoring against Everton. Image by: Stuart Martin

Just two league goals and one assist doesn’t tell the full story of Armstrong’s impact but at the same time Saints do need more from each of their attacking midfielders. As long as he can stay fit, Armstrong should continue to be a valuable member of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad next season - hopefully in a rejuvenated attack.

Che Adams

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 60%

Years Left on Contract: Two

There’s a lot to like about Che Adams. He works his socks off every single week and makes his presence felt physically in a team that sometimes lacks that edge. On his hot streaks he scores goals in bunches and looks close to the complete striker Saints could really use.

But at the same time, this was Adams’ third season at St Mary’s and he still hasn’t hit ten Premier League goals in any of those campaigns. As discussed previously, he misses too many chances and that is hugely frustrating. 

Still, despite his flaws, the 25-year-old plays an important role as the worker in a front two. He shouldn’t necessarily be replaced, but he does need a partner who can stick the ball in the net more often while he must start taking moe of his chances. If Saints' get the same amount of goals from their striker next season as they did this, there's an excellent chance the season will end in the Championship.

Oriol Romeu

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 85%

Years Left on Contract: One

In truth, this was one of the toughest players to make a decision on. The entire point of this exercise is to ignore all sentimentality and try to make some difficult calls. But despite a drop-off in form, Romeu’s place is earnt rather than given for being a good servant.

In his seventh season on the South Coast, Romeu played the most Premier League games he ever has in one campaign and much of that time was spent as one of the key members in this team. Romeu was often charged with leading the press from midfield and it’s something that worked extremely well for the first two-thirds of the season before he faded late on.

Daily Echo: Romeu celebrates making it 2-0 vs Norwich. Image by: Stuart MartinRomeu celebrates making it 2-0 vs Norwich. Image by: Stuart Martin

As he faded, gaps in midfield started to form and Saints were frequently overrun on the counter. You could look at Romeu’s fall either as a reflection of his importance to the team or a sign of his declining state. The player himself will be confident of proving the latter wrong, I’m sure.

Either way, Romeu probably only played so many games due to the unreliability of Ibrahima Diallo and in an ideal world Hasenhuttl would have the means to rotate the experienced Spaniard and keep him fresh for the full campaign. He does have just one year left on his deal so hard decisions will have to be made soon.

Armando Broja

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 58%

Years Left on Contract: 0

The reality is that much of this decision will be out of Southampton’s hands. Hasenhuttl would like to bring Broja back but the striker will return to Chelsea for preseason before any final calls are made, according to Thomas Tuchel.

Some fans won’t mind if the Albanian has played his final game for the club after an underwhelming second half of the season but at just 20-years-old he showed significant flashes of the player he could well become. Southampton’s struggles to create chances certainly didn’t help their strikers and while they really could have used more from Broja in the second half of the season, I’m of the opinion he showed enough to warrant a gamble, at the right price - of course.

Heading Towards Their Last Chance

Those who for whatever reason it didn’t fully work out this season but should be given one more chance.

Adam Armstrong

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 41%

Years Left on Contract: Three Years

There is at least some reason to believe Armstrong could have a big season coming up. But there’s no getting around what was a very disappointing campaign for the striker. 

After arriving last summer from Blackburn, Armstrong scored on his debut at Everton but that was as good as it got. He started 13 of his side’s first 16 Premier League matches and scored just one more goal - a well taken strike against Aston Villa. 2022 got even more difficult for the 25-year-old as he started only three times, getting hooked at half-time in one of those rare starts.

Daily Echo: Armstrong celebrates his second league goal against Aston Villa. Image by: Stuart MartinArmstrong celebrates his second league goal against Aston Villa. Image by: Stuart Martin

There was still enough in his game to give fans reason to believe there is a big player there but he seemed to be lacking confidence and rhythm. Not having any sort of real run in the side over the second half of the season wouldn’t have helped these problems. A similarly disappointing season after the summer could see the end of his Saints career come quite quickly but at the moment there is still enough reason for optimism.

Nathan Tella

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 24%

Years Left on Contract: Three

This was supposed to be Tella’s season. It wasn’t. 

After appearing in 13 of the final 15 games of the 2020/21 campaign, Tella came in raring to go. But he then found game time hard to come by. One start in the first 12 was far from encouraging but the winger fought through the difficult period and played a crucial role in some very good form through January and February.

Unfortunately, an innocuous-seeming groin injury saw Tella miss eight games and when he returned to action in April he struggled to get back in the team.

Starting in the 2-2 draw with Brighton, he showed flashes of his potential but after signing a new contract in January both the club and player will be expecting a notable step forward next season. Otherwise, his Saints career could start to drift away.

Ibrahima Diallo

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 30%

Years Left on Contract: Two

Southampton needed Diallo to make big strides this season and if he made any strides, they were small ones. The defensive midfielder started just ten Premier League games and was frequently a non-factor in the games he did play in. 

Two years into his Saints career and it still doesn’t appear Diallo has quite adjusted to the speed of Premier League football. If it’s going to happen for him it will have to be next season. With just two years left on his deal, Southampton could well consider selling if an offer arrives. 


Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 28%

Years Left on Contract: Three

It’s probably slightly harsh to include Lyanco on this list of players heading towards their final chance after an injury-hit first season in English football. But there were enough warning signs to suggest major improvements are necessary if the centre-back is to carve out an extended stay at the club.

A great character and someone who clearly enjoys being a Saints player, it wasn’t all bad for Lyanco. Far from it, in fact. He showed signs of the player he can be through a very decent run in November and December before a hamstring injury cost him two months before an impressive return in the 1-0 victory against Arsenal.

Daily Echo: Saints defender Lyanco. Image by: Stuart MartinSaints defender Lyanco. Image by: Stuart Martin

But there was also a collection of erratic moments punctuated by an awful mistake to gift Leicester their first goal on Sunday. It was the game’s controversial flashpoint but it also should have definitely been dealt with by the Saints defender. Lyanco is a lot of fun to watch and his energy can be enthusiastic and really important. But in a defence that already lacks structure and consistency he didn’t add either of those two attributes in quite a few of his performances.

Will Smallbone

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 4%

Years Left on Contract: Two

It may seem unfair to suggest Smallbone is running out of time considering how much of his recent Saints career has been spent battling back from injury. But this is a harsh world and the truth is that if it doesn’t happen next season then it probably isn’t going to happen for Smallbone.

Step one is getting on the pitch. If that can’t happen at St Mary’s then a loan should be considered.

Squad Players - Not Every-Week Starters

Those who can play a role in the squad but didn’t show enough to suggest they should be first-choice.

Jack Stephens 

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 24%

Years Left on Contract: Unknown - Believed to be two

One could certainly make the argument that Saints should move on from Stephens but if Jan Bednarek departs and only one new central defender arrives, the academy graduate will be needed as a depth option. In fairness, Stephens was not awful in the defeat to Leicester. But in total he started just nine games with five of those being the first five games of the season.

Following a knee injury he fell down the pecking order and struggled to ever regain a consistent role in Hasenhuttl’s side. With the club eyeing at least one centre-back in the transfer market it’s hard to see how Stephens’ stock can rise this season and for the sake of his own career it may be time to look elsewhere. But if he does stay he can at least be trusted as someone who will give everything they have for the team - albeit with mixed results.

Alex McCarthy

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 45%

Years Left on Contract: Unknown - Believed to be three

We’ve already covered the relative mess that is Saints’ goalkeeping situation in relatively extensive detail but regardless of anyone’s opinion it is apparent that McCarthy will be staying while Fraser Forster departs. Based purely on the quality of their play this season, it's a decision that doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. But it seems the call was made last summer prior to Forster's impressive recent run in the side.

According to the FA Intermediary Report, McCarthy has signed an “updated contract” believed to be three years. Meanwhile, Southampton are in the market for a younger shot-stopper to challenge him. If Saints get their Forster replacement right then there will be no complaints, but it’s fairly clear that McCarthy can’t be their number one next season.

Daily Echo: Alex McCarthy is set to stay at Southampton. Image by: PAAlex McCarthy is set to stay at Southampton. Image by: PA

Mohamed Elyounoussi

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 60%

Years Left on Contract: One

Returning from two years on loan at Celtic, Elyounoussi came back to St Mary’s last summer and quickly established himself as a regular in Hasenhuttl’s side. He started nine of Southampton’s first 12 matches and went on to make 30 Premier League appearances.

There was flashes of what he can offer and a total of four goals and two assists but he was far too inconsistent to be relied upon. Some days he looks capable of energising the attack while on others he totally disappears. With one year left on his deal a decision will have to be made this summer. If he is offered a new deal it can’t deter Saints from upgrading his spot - something that is desperately needed.

Time to Move On

Those who Southampton should try to move on from and/or listen to offers for this summer.

Jan Bednarek

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes Played: 77%

Years Left on Contract: Three

Despite playing 31 times in the Premier League this season, it feels like Bednarek’s Saints career is not moving forward. At 26-years-old it’s hard to see the Polish centre-back improving notably and his current level isn’t good enough to lead Saints’ porous defence.

Some may see Bednarek as the scapegoat for wider problems but he doesn’t have the ceiling of someone like Salisu and has been given ample opportunity to prove himself, unlike Lyanco. Not enough progress has been made and it’s abundantly clear that Southampton need to upgrade the centre-back partner to Salisu.

Daily Echo: Bednarek scores against Arsenal. Image by: Stuart MartinBednarek scores against Arsenal. Image by: Stuart Martin

Bednarek failed to act as the calming presence in a disorganised and inexperienced group that was Hasenhuttl’s backline. If any sort of decent offer comes in, then it would be foolish not to consider it as one of a few players who should carry value but isn’t essential to the future of the club.

Shane Long

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes: 9%

Years Left on Contract: 0

Long will be remembered fondly by much of the Saints fan base and he deserves to be held in high regard as someone who always gave his all. But he isn’t scoring the goals Saints need and he hasn’t done so for some time. Southampton must rebuild their attack and that means moving on from Long at the expiry of his contract in June.

He could probably still offer enough as a depth option for one more year but Southampton desperately need to start fresh and holding onto Long is the kind of decision that stops the club from progressing forward. It’s time to be ruthless and that means letting go of an excellent servant like Long.

Yan Valery

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes: 11%

Years Left on Contract: One

After making just three Premier League appearances last season prior to going on loan to Birmingham City, Valery only slightly bettered that total this time around, reaching five.

Four of those appearances came as a third centre-back in a back five and with a dearth of full-back options on the final day of the season, Hasenhuttl still opted for Salisu at left-back and Walker-Peters in his natural right-back position. If he’s seen purely as an option for a back five then he won’t have much of a future considering Hasenhuttl’s strong preference for the 4-2-2-2 system. 

This was not a particularly promising season for Valery and with just one year left on his deal it’s not clear that he has a future at the club. If he stays past this summer, then he will be playing for his future next season. And he’ll need to play a lot more to stand a chance of sticking around.

Theo Walcott

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes: 11%

Years Left on Contract: One

As the season wore on, the decision to award Walcott a two-year deal looked worse and worse. After starting four of his side’s first nine games, the Saints academy graduate made just one more start the entire rest of the season while appearing for the final time against Tottemham in February. That one minute cameo was his only bit of Premier League action in 2022 as he failed to even appear on the bench in nine of the final 15 games.

Walcott is said to be an excellent presence within the dressing room and mentor for younger players but that just isn’t enough for a team that needs so much more. Linked with a move to the MLS, an amicable parting would be best for all parties.

Moussa Djenepo

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes: 13%

Years Left on Contract: One

I feel pretty comfortable saying the Moussa Djenepo experiment is over. His peak came in his very first month as a Saints player and since then he has flashed inconsistently and doesn’t seem to fit the mould of what Hasenhuttl wants in his wingers. Perhaps too unpredictable for the manager’s relatively rigid system, Djenepo started just five times this season failing to score or provide any assists in his limited minutes.

Daily Echo: Djenepo applauds the Saints fans. Image by: Stuart MartinDjenepo applauds the Saints fans. Image by: Stuart Martin

He played a total of 45 minutes in the league from late October and with one year left on his deal, Southampton would do well to recoup any of the £14m fee it took to bring him to the South Coast. Finding a buyer may prove tough but the club will be open to offers.

Nathan Redmond

Percentage of Southampton’s 21/22 Premier League Minutes: 9%

Years Left on Contract: One

One of the more frustrating members of the squad, Redmond clearly has quality - that much has never been in doubt. The winger actually led his side with five assists but four of them came in a six-appearance spell through the late autumn. 

Soon after that though he fell out of favour and found himself left out in eight of nine games. Somewhat surprisingly he made a late season renaissance of sorts, starting Saints’ final five matches. Capable of playing on the wing, as a second striker or even and wing-back, Redmond’s versatility is helpful but he just can’t be counted on to produce in attack on any regular basis. With one year left on his deal, Redmond is another Saints would do well to shift for a small fee.

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