With Ronaldo Koeman having overseen a successful first season at Southampton, the Dutch boss’ next assignment will be to build for the Saints next campaign and the historically tricky sophomore term, as they attempt to further solidify their Premier League status.
After the loss of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw last summer, many expected Koeman’s arrival from Eredivisie side Feyenoord to be fraught with obstacles, with some even predicting a relegation scrap for Koeman’s men.
However, with the shrewd acquisitions of Graziano Pelle – brought over from his time at Feyenoord – and Dusan Tadic, from Dutch rivals FC Twente, together with the additions of Ryan Bertrand and Sadio Mane, Southampton and Koeman have found a balance of even greater harmony, arguably than under predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino.
Tweaking a side is often more difficult than completely overhauling a unit. But for the Dutchman, tweaking is what will be needed to his side.
The need will also be to re-balance the equilibrium, with the likely further departures of Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin.
In reference to his future plans at St. Marys, The Mirror claim that Southampton have opened talks with Lille over a £7 million move for midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Gueye, 25, has 5 goals in 135 appearances for the South-Parisian side and also 23 caps for his native Senegal.
With Schneiderlin more likely than not to leave, Koeman has earmarked Gueye as the man to replace his French midfield general.
The French club are no stranger to having their talent plucked and make the short trip across The Channel. Yohan Cabaye, Eden Hazard and Mathieu Debuchy were all in the Lille side that won the domestic league and cup double in 2011. All of which are, or have been, regulars in the English top flight.
Gueye’s suitability should therefore not be questioned with regard to a Saints move and given his 5’9 stature, could operate in a similar role to Steven Davis, who though primarily a central midfielder, has been deployed on the right of an attacking three, as well as behind the striker.
In context with Southampton’s style, he may be a good fit. If Koeman sticks with Victor Wanyama at the base of his midfield spine, Gueye could be a afforded the opportunity to venture forward, suiting both himself and his prospective new employers.
Much will depend on the future of Schneiderlin, but this is perhaps one of the more likely early summer transfer whispers.