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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Southampton

The first and last time Southampton won a major trophy was 40 years ago, when they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the 1976 F.A. Cup Final, but their form in recent Premier League seasons has been outstanding. In fact, in 2015/16, the Saints finished in sixth place, their highest position ever in the Premier League, and so qualified for the group stages of the Europa League.

Of course, manager Ronald Koeman has been headhunted by new Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, while Sengalese winger Sadio Mane and Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama have also left St. Mary’s, so it remains to be seen if the team can continue its recent progress. On the plus side, Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis, fellow midfielder James Ward-Prowse, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Fraser Forster have all recently signed new contracts and 22-year-old Norwich City winger Nathan Redmond has joined the club.

At the time of writing, Frenchman Claude Puel, who previously won the French league title with Monaco and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with Lyon, is poised to become the new Southampton manager. The club is also reportedly working on other transfer targets so, while 150/1 to win the Premier League is probably one for diehard Saints’ fans only, 14/1 for a top four finish and, certainly, 11/4 for a top six finish, looks far more realistic. That said, Italian Graziano Pelle has excelled at Euro 2016 and may well be on his way to Juventus after the tournament, tempted by the lure of Champions League football, so much will depend on Saints’ transfer market activity.

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