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Hughes Still After New Signings But Admits Departures Are Needed !
Monday, 23rd Jul 2018 10:36

Mark Hughes has suggested that if he is to sign any new players then departures may have to happen first, here we take a look at his comments.

There are already Saints supporters who are reacting with indignation at Mark Hughes comments to the Daily Echo that he might have to sell first before he can bring in any more players, but there are several ways that these comments can be looked at.

Hughes was candid in saying that players may need to go if further new signings are to be brought in.

He said: “We will see. We will probably have to sell or allow players to go out of the club if we are likely to bring anybody in now I would think.

“You never know. We have still got a couple of weeks before the start of the season and things present themselves as we know.

“We have to be ready if we are able to to get in the right type of player who can help us.

“We have done ok. We have done early business which we are pleased about but you are always on the lookout.”

Some have seen this as Saints not spending money, but it is more than that, so far Saints have spent £51 million on 4 players and received a transfer fee for only 1 so far, that being the £15 million or so for Dusan Tadic, however the cynics say that the net spend of £36 million still leaves a surplus from the transfer fee received for Virgil Van Dijk in January.

Back then Saints received £75 million but after £12 million to Celtic and £20 million for Carrillo that would have left around £43 million n the coffers, so in this calendar year Saints have probably spent only about £7 million less than brought in and that is not taking into account agents and signing on fees.

But Hughes is right when he says we need to sell and although money is a factor it is not the only one, indeed it is not just transfer fees that need to be covered it is wages as well and Saints have a squad that is top heavy at the moment and needs to be culled

A quick look at each department reveals that even after the departures including Boufal and Carrillo on loan the numbers of those in contention for a first team place to be.

Goalkeepers - 3 McCarthy, Forster, Gunn

Right backs - 1 Soares

Central Defenders - 5 Yoshida, Stephens, Hoedt, Bednarek, Vestergaard

Left backs- 3 Bertrand, Targett, McQueen

Central midfielders - 8 Davis, Lemina, Ward Prowse, Hojbjerg, Clasie, Romeu, Reed, Armstrong.

Wide players - 3 Redmond, Sims, Elyounoussi,

Forwards - 4 Austin, Gabbiadini, Long, Gallagher.

This list does not include those like Jake Hesketh, Callum Slattery, Yan Valery or Michael Obafemi all of whom the club are hopeful will make an impact this season, but even without them thats 27 players .

Clubs have to name a 25 man squad of which up to 17 can be those that do not qualify as "Home Grown" on top of that they can play unlimited numbers of under 21 players, for the 2018/19 campaign Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 1997.

As it stands we have 11 that are not home grown so we have scope there, but only Sims, Slattery, Valery & Obafemi who qualify under the U21 rule.

That means that we already have 26 players outside of the U21 rules, if we make no more signings one of those would have to be omitted from the squad and not play.

If we look at where Saints can make those cuts I would say that some of these players could well go, although in some cases it may be difficult to offload them due to wages.

Forster - £15 million

Stephens - £3 million

McQueen - £1.5 million

Davis - £1 million

Reed - £3 million

Gallagher £7 million

That would trim the squad by 7 players and bring in upwards of £30 million for transfer fees and a hefty chunk off the wage bill, that is just as important as bringing in a fee, someone like Jack Stephens or Sam Gallagher are reported to have signed long term deals at £40 k a week that's over £2 million a year each in wages.

So losing fringe players is just as much about the combined wages as transfer fees,

Ideally Saints would sell those 6 players and bring in £30 million, but it would also free up £14 million per year in wages although in fairness around a third of that would be Forster's alone.

This would enable Saints to bring in two quality players at around the going rate of £20 million a piece taking into account £30 million in incoming transfer fees and a net save on wages of around £8 million.

This illustrates Mark Hughes comments about needing to sell before we can buy, it's not just about money, it's about the size of our squad as it is, it is far too big.

These are the players that Saints would like to be able to get shot of, but there are also others who they might like to keep but are still surplus to requirements, even if we let Davis and Reed go that's still six players who can play in central midfield left for essentially three positions, it's still top heavy.

Of course there are many permutations and number crunchings to be done by the Saints transfer committee including Hughes himself, but ultimately Hughes knows that the squad is far too big for his needs, Saints do not have a bottomless pit of money, they have made mistakes in the past two seasons and although those mistakes are outweighed by the success that have come in in numbers, Boufal and Carrillo have been big chunks out of the budget and a heavy load on the wage bill.

So all Mark Hughes has done is state the reality of the situation, it is perhaps also a little bit of gamesmanship, we are telling clubs we are talking to about signings that we haven't got the money to be fleeced, the exact opposite of January when club's knew we were panicking about signing a forward and knew we had the Van Dijk money in the bank and held us to ransom.

The last four summers have show us that it is better to wait and see what happens rather than scream and shout about what might happen, the club need to do their business quietly and efficiently, that is what they are doing now, football is a game both on and off the field, the transfer window is a big poker game where you have to keep a straight face and bluff and counter bluff to see who blinks first.

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Keesie66 added 10:49 - Jul 23
Agree more or less, the squad is too heavy so :

Out without too much of a consequence overall : Forster, Targett, Davis, Long, Gallagher, Clasie.....

IN : 1 powerful striker, could have been Bas Dost but apparently he is staying now....

The above is not rocket science and exactly what MH is saying I believe.....

Sanguin added 10:54 - Jul 23
Great article. Like Keesie, I'd still like us to trim the squad and bring another striker in. But if nothing else happens in this window then I think it will still be one our best in recent years.

GeordieSaint added 10:55 - Jul 23
It is also unlikely the club takes all the transfer fee in one go for tax purposes. A huge transfer like vvd s coming in one payment is not always ideal as the club could end up owing 20% to the government. Far better to spread it out over several smaller payments.

arthurfane added 11:12 - Jul 23
Bas Dost would be an ideal signing. Agree that a striker and one more wide attacker (Sisto in a dream world) would be a huge boost to a team that struggle to score and create.

£15m for Forster seems unrealistic - fact is, if a club offered £5m to take him off our hands on a permanent basis we should bite their hand off. He was brilliant, but is an expensive liability now and we have 2 goalkeepers on the books who are better than him. I'd happily wave farewell to Clasie, Davis and McQueen too - Stephens should go out on loan (he could still make it) and think Reed and Gallagher have parts to play this season (the former as an option at RWB where we are lacking and the latter as a useful impact option off the bench in the Pelle like mould.)

Colburn added 11:13 - Jul 23
I think numbers are more important than the money. Decent window so far. If we have money issues then I’m surprised we paid 13.5 million for Gunn. Still think Ings would be great for us..

mikesaint added 11:58 - Jul 23
I think we should get rid of Ward-prowse, Redmond, Forster, Davis, Clasie, Stephens, Gallagher and Austin to name a few who are not good enough for the Premier League. It was mad to pay Stephens and Gallagher 40 K a week so they should be the first to go. We still need to buy a good proven Premier League Striker and a creative player to replace Tadic.

saintmark1976 added 12:21 - Jul 23
Long post Nick and I must admit that I have only skimmed it.However it does appear that Yoshida is not mentioned by you as "one to go". Surely some mistake, or can we all now take it that you realise he's a lot better player than you have previously given him credit for?

bstokesaint added 12:48 - Jul 23
Mikesaint, injuries’ question aside, I think you’ll find Charlie Austin has one of the best conversion rates of any striker to play in the Premier League.

Nick, I take your point about us being top heavy with a number of less quality players, but I still struggle with the money argument for new players. I don’t understand how some of the lesser clubs outside of the top six can make far bigger purchases than us. Are they all really negatively geared to the nines?! Do game revenues, shirts sales and TV money all go on player wages? If they do we’re something wrong. I can’t ever seeing us ever properly progressing if we really on selling superstars to fully fund transfers. What it should allow us to do is constantly improve the quality of our purchases. Carillo is a glowing example. It takes me back to my favourite subject really. Why did we bring in the Chinaman?

arthurfane added 12:59 - Jul 23
Agree bstokesaint - Austin should stay. If he can stay fit he could be vital. Shane Long is useful for his running/harrying alone - perhaps a good signing could be someone with pace who does that, but can also finish (or would that cost £50m?) and then send Long back to Reading...

skiptonsaint added 13:11 - Jul 23
Would get more than 1.5 for McQueen I feel but nowhere near 15m for Forster

Clear that mistakes are going to hold us back for a couple of seasons I suspect. We should have enough to avoid relegation but that squad looks anywhere between 17th and 11th for me

Rebuilding season is ok as long as mistakes have been learned

Still time to make me a bit more optimistic though and maybe the 3 outfield signings will all be corkers

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 13:36 - Jul 23
As it stands I think Saints will struggle to score goals again next season. We need a Lambert/Pelle style target man, someone dominant in the air who can hold the ball up and play in other attackers. Arthurfane above says Bas Dost and he'd be ideal! The likes of Gabbi and Austin would thrive playing up front with this type of player. We can't have another season of putting in tons of crosses but not having anyone good in the air to aim at. A lightweight front line only works if you have top class players like City or Liverpool and can play your way through defences.
From what I've seen I get the feeling that Elyounoussi won't set the world alight. Sorry its just the impression I've got at the moment. But I reckon Stuart Armstrong will definitely add some attacking intent from the centre of midfield and might get double figures for both goals and assists.
It looks like Hughes is lining up Ward-Prowse and Harrison Reed to cover for Cedric at right wing back.

In terms of the list above, players to get rid of:
Forster - way past his best & now 3rd choice, Gunn is an excellent addition.
McQueen - decent player but 3rd choice & will never be a starter.
Clasie - will go to Feyenoord once a fee has been agreed.
Davis - brilliant servant but now has little to offer compared to Armstrong.
Long - pace and workrate doesn't make up for utterly dreadful finishing. Not a Premiership quality player, must be let go to make room for a better alternative.

DPeps added 13:50 - Jul 23
We do need to sell as I can't believe that the current wage bill is sustainable.

Successful teams are built around effective transitions - constantly refreshing the players. It's as important to know when players are on the wane as it is to know which players you need to get in. One of our (many) problems in the last couple of years has been not recognising when players are past their best. Forster, Davis, and Long have been in that category for a couple of years, and some others have repeatedly shown that they've not successfully adapted to the PL. It's a mercenary business I'm afraid.

Also, agree with others that £15 million for Forster is ambitious as potential buyers will know how keen we are to sell.

ItchenNorth added 13:58 - Jul 23
The reality is that without a decent striker; any team will struggle in the Premier League. And in there lays Saints problem, just like all of the other teams outside of the top 5 or 6. Will Elyounoussi, Amstrong and Vestergaard drastically revamp our fortunes in 18/19: probably not, as they are all incremental replacements / upgrades for want away or underperforming players. That is not a criticism of Saints transfer policy. We don’t have the money to do much else or the pulling power. That's reality. The modern transfer fee is still peanuts for a clubs in the Premier League, but it's the wage demands that clubs like Saints can’t compete with at the very top end. Our new signings are fresh faces that we hope will lift the squad and add much needed competition for places. However, Saints need a striker. We next need to go one of two ways in the transfer market, either identify a more mobile partner for Gabbiadini or find a stand up striker in the mould of Austin (that’s fit !). I love Austin, but we can’t rely on him for the full season to remain fit, but he does deserve his place in the squad.

As for the rest, I’d sell Forster, Hoedt (won’t happen though), Davis and Clasie.

IWOZTHERE added 14:08 - Jul 23
We are 'stuffed' with Fraser Forster. No 'top paying' club will come in for him. The only way is to subsidise his wages by letting him go on a 'free'.
It seems that other clubs aren't exactly falling over themselves to sign our fringe players and I don't like the 'loan trend' we seem to be drawn towards. That's ok with youngsters, but I'd say cut your losses now or most loanees will be back, (even older), in a years time.
Personally, I rate McQueen more than Targett, So unless there's something happening with Bert, I'd take Fulham's money.

sidsaint added 15:34 - Jul 23
What a shame we panicked and spent hard cash and paid over the odds on the likes of Carillo and to a lesser extent Boufal, as we can now only offload them on loan when a full transfer would allow us more opportunities in the market. I think we should hold out for a descent price for Clasie but keep Targett and Gallagher. We may have to take a big hit on Forster and Davis, Long, McQueen or Reed won't command any large fees. I think we need a bettter forward than Ings Class strikers cost a lot of money which I don't think we have.

BoondockSaint added 15:35 - Jul 23
Unfortunately, as much as players might put in a solid effort, if they are not producing, they are not justifying their wages and have to go. Yes, that is cold-blooded and heartless, but it is the nature of professional sports. It's a business. (And from the players' point of view: They have to squeeze every pound they can out of the teams while they can.)

Speaking of which: How much does Ralph Krueger make to give obtuse interviews?

VijicSaint added 16:58 - Jul 23
Quite disappointed we are not going to give Carrillo a chance. Jokes aside, he had no chance last season in that awful set up. For all we know he may have come good in a more attacking format under Hughes.

halftimeorange added 17:03 - Jul 23
Mark Hughes and the board can say what they like but, although we've shored up the defence, added an attacking midfielder and a replacement crosser of balls, who out of the players listed in the 27 in the article is going to score a hatfull of goals - answer - well, I don't know the answer. If money is needed then probably the easiest sale to effect would be Ryan. Matt Targett played really well last season and, for those with short memories, Sam McQueen played in a number of positions in our EUFA season without being criticised. Either way, if Gallagher isn't up to being a regular starter then we must have a target man or we will see cross after cross easily defended by the opposition just as they were last season. No goals equals a relegation battle. Don't tell me the money can't be found which would be recovered in a reasonable season.

Jesus_02 added 17:10 - Jul 23
So basically we have bought far to many average players in the hope that they will turn into world beaters... return to the old (Rupert Lowe) Southampton Way.

The thing that gives me a little hope is that Hughes knows this... only time will tell if Les will accept the short term losses required to some of these players off the books


redandwhitedee added 18:11 - Jul 23
Stephens was by far our best player in the 1st month of the season last year. You never gave him any credit for that. Even the season before when he contributed to about 13 clean sheets if I recall correctly. He is a firm favorite of most supporters. How you can wish him away for a paltry 3m is a joke. Yet you rate gallacher who has done nothing in the premier league at 7m !! Bizarre.

By the way, Armstrong also counts as a wide player not central mid.

TeamCortese added 23:17 - Jul 23
Below is what I posted at the beginning of the transfer window.


Jan Bednarak (needs a solid season on-loan in the Championship or EPL)
Maya Yoshida (is getting older. may need to reconsider being a backup or be sold)
Ryan Bertrand (his head is no longer in it. I think he wants one last payday). Needs to be phased out with Matt Targett/Kieran Tierney as his replacement.
Steven Davis (too old now). Should be replaced by Shaqiri or Wilshere
James Ward Prowse (has been given enough opportunities. time to cut our losses)
Dusan Tadic (is getting older. likely to leave this summer. Should be replaced by Boufal or Boufal's replacement)
Harrison Reed
Carillo (should go out on loan)
Sam Gallagher (not EPL quality)
Charlie Austin (too injury-prone. may have to accept himself as an impact sub)
Redmond (too inconsistent and not strong enough on the ball)


Christian Benteke or Bas Dost to replace Pelle (was never replaced!). Might need to consider alternatives but they're the best I can think of at this moment.

Adama Traore/Quincy Promes (both will bring pace and directness to our attack). Traore is younger and may have a better sell-on value in the longer term.

Hakim Ziyech and Shaqiri (replace Davis and JWP)

One (possibly two) Solid centre back with leadership qualities i.e. Harry Maguire, James Tarkowski etc.

Backup goalkeeper for McCarthy

Backup right back for Cedric. Maybe it's time to see whether Yan Valery can step up to the first team. "

I have since revised my list slightly:


Jack Stephens (5-10 million). He's had two solid seasons in the EPL that would be a minimum fee. I'd even say we could command up to £15 million with add-ons (he is only 24 and English after all).
Jan Bednarak (loan)
Ryan Bertrand should leave for at least £20 million. Targett is ready to step-up (McQueen should be backup)
Steven Davis (3-5 million)
James Warde Prowse (5-10 million). Similar to Stephens could go up to £15 million with add-ons.
Dusan Tadic (sold for £15 million). This was around the mark I expected. I was hoping it would go up to £20 million.
Forster (£10 million at least)
Harrison Reed (£5 million)
Sam Gallagher (£5-10 million)
Charlie Austin (£3-5 million)
Shane Long (£5-8 million)
Carillio (already out on loan)
Redmond (£10-15 million)

Tallying all the players (based off minimums) comes to around £71 million. Most of that could go towards signing a top quality striker that will get us at least 15-20 goals a season and a top quality wide-man.

For me I think we should try and sign a Bas Dost/Benteke type striker and a pacy direct winger like Adama Traore/Sisto as well as workhorse striker like Danny Welbeck (perfect replacement for Shane Long). With 70 odd we could easily do that. If we have any money left over we should either save it for January or try and buy a creative midfielder. We could also try to get Lemina to be more attacking. I also think Jake Hesketh should be looking to fill that void. He's got the quality to do it but he needs to bulk up!

Lastly, this is the season for the youth to stake their claim in the first team i.e. Jake Hesketh, Josh Sims, Yan Valery and Sam McQueen. It's time to see if they can break into the first. Injuries will occur and it's up to them to take the opportunities presented to them with both hands.


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