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Saints Have Six Players Out Of Contract In Summer ! Will Any Stay !
Wednesday, 9th Feb 2022 09:22

As it stands at the moment Saints have six players whose contract end in the summer of 2022, perhaps four of them harbour hopes of staying at St Mary's, but will any of them actually do so, or will they all depart.

Of the six players whose deal ends, bizarrely 4 of them are goalkeepers, with only Jack Stephens & Shane Long outfield players.

Ralph Hasenhuttl will be looking to trim his squad this season to make way for potential new signings so it is far from certain that any will stay.

Let's look first at two who will definitely not be at the club, Shane Long will almost certainly move on after 8 seasons of service, he has just turned 35 and is at the tail end of his career, the Irishman has come in for some stick from sections of our support, but he deserves to leave with the best wishes of Saints supporters ringing in his ears.

Up until 2020 he was a valuable member of the squad, he played a lot of games and still popped up with the odd goal or two, those who judge him purely on goalscoring miss the point, it is about what he does in the build up to goals rather than scoring them himself.

I will save the praises for when he leaves, but this season he has been what we have lacked for quite a while, good experienced back up who can do a job, as was shown with the winner at Swansea City in the cup.

The other departure will be Goalkeeper Harry Lewis, at 24 he has not established himself at the club, he has played only 3 games all in the FA Cup back in January 2017, he spent a season on loan at Dundee United where he appeared to do well, but in the last 4 years he has been in the background at St Mary's.

Best wishes to Harry and I suspect he is a victim playing wise at least, of the high contracts handed out a few years back and has had to stay put or see his income drop substantially.

So that leaves 4 players who could all equally either be at the club or depart, lets look at the goalkeepers first.

Back in November. the goalkeeping situation looked clear cut, Alex McCarthy would sign a new deal and be back up to a newly arrived stopper next season and Fraser Forster would depart.

This would free up a large chunk of the wage bill with Forster's alleged £90k a week off the books completely and McCarthy's £50k reduced, this saving somewhere between £5-6 million a year in wages.

But McCarthy's nightmare form back in November adding to which the public outburst from Hasenhuttl about his professionalism seems to have changed the situation drastically, Fraser Forster stepped back in between the sticks and has shown why he was Saints first choice a few years ago and Willy Caballero has been a very competent deputy when called upon.

So suddenly McCarthy looks most likely to leave having fallen to 3rd in the pecking order judging by what the manager is saying about the other two keepers.

I would be surprised if Saints kept both Forster & Caballero, but I would be equally surprised if they stuck with just Caballero as the back up.

I would suspect that if we don't keep Forster then we would look to a promising youngster to come in as back up to a new number 1 and perhaps keep Caballero who at 41 is not going to break the bank in wage demands.

So to the final decision and Jack Stephens, I am surprised that the loyal club servant has not been handed a new deal as of yet, or at least the fact that he has not signed one.

I suspect that the reason is two sided, firstly as earlier mentioned 4-5 years ago the club handed out contracts that were way above what some players should have been paid and we have been strangled by the wage bill since, I think Jack has been offered a new deal but it is at a reduced rate than his current one.

At 28 he is no spring chicken, during his time at Saints he has never truly been a first team regular, he joined the club in 2011 but he didn't make his debut till January 2017 as he turned 23.

During that time he has started 109 Premier League games, plus 6 as sub, out of 190 possible, his appearance levels have been dropping, this season so far he has made just 6 in the League although he has been out with injury and last season he made just 18, just below his career average of around 20 a season.

He is at a crossroads, to be blunt he could stay here and be what his role is in the main and that is be a very capable back up player, but he has not made the breakthrough to being a solid 38 game a season man.

So does he stay here and take the money or does he try to get a decent contract elsewhere that will see him end his career as a first choice, perhaps in the Championship.

It is a hard decision, undoubtably he has been a good servant to the club, loyal as well, although like Forster, McCarthy & Lewis, that probably hasn't been hard given the high wages they are all on.

Some will say I'm harsh on the man here, I'm not I'm just looking a the situation as the club will do, they will feel their first choices will be Salisu & Bednarek with Lyanco as back up, they will feel Yan Valery can play in the position and they think that Dynel Simeu will be breaking through next season after his loan spell at Carlisle, not to mention the soon to be 17 year old signing from Cheltenham Will Armitage.

That has possibly formed part of the discussions between club and player, with Sport Republic now in charge, the Southampton Way is being fine tuned, even more so it is about sourcing young talent under the radar and bringing them on, Jack Stephens more than anyone will know this, he is currently 4th choice and he could drop to 5th if he stays, yes there will be chances, but they are becoming more limited each season, he will perhaps feel that it is time to move on.

So this will probably end amicably, I think if Jack had been offered a deal that is better than he would get elsewhere, then he might well have signed it, the fact a contract hasn't been agreed and signed perhaps means that an amicable parting of the ways is going to be the end result here.

I truly wish Jack Stephens a good career, he has been a good and loyal servant, he has had some great games at times, as has Alex McCarthy, but and it is a big sad but, neither has truly been consistent enough to be an unchallenged first team regular for an entire season. I would not be unhappy should both stay, but I can see the writing on the wall here.

In fact it could well be the case for all six, there is a new regime in town and the goalposts have changed, before Sport Republic, Saints would probably looked at Alex McCarthy & Jack Stephens as being good squad players, now it is about getting good youngsters who can breakthrough as the back up.

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PatfromPoole added 09:37 - Feb 9
Pretty certain Jack Stephens signed a new contract a year or two ago.

halftimeorange added 10:29 - Feb 9
I wouldn't keep any of them. For various reasons, age, ability of costing more than they're worth, they should move on and, in all honesty, are any of them good enough to play against the class of opposition Saints now face week in, week out. I don't think so. Furthermore, looking at the Brentford model, they seem to be able to unearth good, reasonably-priced players to replace those that have been sold on. I know that there is a chance Brentford might get sucked into the bottom three but, they are surely bound to bounce straight back with their set-up, which is not dissimilar to the way Saints operate and we have been successful at managing EPL status for a lot longer than them. The talent is out there and last summer, we seem to have attracted quite a bit of it.

landsdownsaint added 10:35 - Feb 9
Shane long is an interesting one as he’s still do quick & reads the game like no other player we got , I wonder if they might be tempted another year ?

SaintNick added 11:00 - Feb 9
Jack Stephens is out of contract this summer he was rumoured to be about to sign a deal back at the start of the season as was Mccarthy , but it doesn't seem to have happened

saint901 added 12:57 - Feb 9
As we seem to have bought in to the Brentford model which is all about spotting young players and bringing them on before cashing in (and who cares about achieving something in football ambition), I can see Long, Stephens, McCarthy all going out of the club permanently.

I like Long as a player and in many areas of the pitch he is surprisingly good (he loses very few headers) but a striker at EPL level needs to be sharper than he currently is. Stephens likewise is just not quite at the level we need. Keepers are different. Whilst we all know that form is elusive, keepers cannot afford to make errors. For me McCarthy has made too many and needs to look elsewhere.

ElijahK added 13:16 - Feb 9
I’d say that we should keep Stephens as he’s a decent bench option and we don’t have to worry too much about him going anywhere else, but I’d also keep one of McCarthy or Forster and get rid of the other (I’d certainly prefer McCarthy to stay (especially if Forster won’t take a pay cut), but don’t care that much if we get a new number 1 keeper in the summer), but Long and Caballero are interesting as I’d of thought that maybe giving Caballero a coaching foal or such may be decent for the club, and with Long, well maybe giving him a small extension on his contract as he can still be decent at times (so only like 1/2 years more). But Lewis should just be dropped as we’ve seen nothing whatsoever from him, which suggests that he’s not all that he’s meant to be.
So really at least half of these 6 I would’ve thought won’t be playing for us anymore, whether any become coaches or not will be inserting to see.

WestSussexSaint added 13:24 - Feb 9
I suspect all but one GK will go. Depending on who we can get in (Johnstone/Henderson) the retained keeper will probably be back up.

All go with best wishes, especially Shane Long who provided my favourite recent moment supporting Saints with his goal at Liverpool in the league cup semi final.

davidargyll added 13:46 - Feb 9
My reading of the situation would be dictated by who we bring in before we decide who is going to be shown the door. Past experience would definitely suggest that getting rid of dead wood first can leave you in a mess if your chosen targets subsequently decide not to join. And given we’ve got a bit more in the kitty this time, we can in theory afford to buy before selling first.

vanmans added 13:46 - Feb 9
Stephens,Lewis and McCarthy all need to go as they are not up to Premier League standard.
Might be worth keeping Caballero in a coaching position and get rid of existing goal keeping
coaches. Shane Long might be worth keeping to work with the kids.

underweststand added 14:25 - Feb 9
Firstly the Goalie quartet. (Nick) made the point that they were on exceptionally high salaries, and from that standpoint we should be glad to get them off the books.
Should we keep any of them? Perhaps - If we pay " a more reasonable salary level."
If anyone thinks that sounds hard-hearted..just remember they've all spent half of their careers in training, or on the bench without getting their jersey's muddied.

I'd keep Willie Cab. for another season. It wouldn't break the bank and despite being 40 his experience as " Big Club back-up" has been impressive. (Shilton played to age 50)
Harry Lewis needs a first team role in another club and should go. Sadly, I don't share Ralph's faith in Alex McCarthy who despite making some great saves, looks as nervous as the proverbial " rabbit in the headlights " during games - and was custodian for much of last season's diabolical goal difference. He should get a good club elsewhere.

Which leaves us with Forster. Much has been made of his astronomical wage (most of it whilst on the bench) but he has looked very impressive of late, and if he doesn't get a better offer elsewhere should be offered a good (but lower salary level).
IF / WHEN we sign "a Johnstone / A.N. OTHER ", we'd still have two reliable keepers , with Willie as third man, and youngsters like fast-improving Jack Bycroft on the way up.

Jack Stephens had a hard Prem. baptism, thrown in as he was alongside Yoshida after Jamie Vardy crocked VvD, and he has rarely had a run of games to establish himself, but I would still rate him above the likes of Hoedt.
Shane Long still defies his critics by coming up with good performances at 35 and still has the pace to beat many Prem. defenders. Could see Ralph keeping him another season.

We will doubtless see a few new faces bought in, but there is little place for " Old Lang Syne " in Prem. football so we may be seeing the back of all six of them by the summer.

barry_sanchez added 14:25 - Feb 9
Why has Jack Stephens been a loyal servant? He got a great contract years ago and probably couldn't believe his luck, why would he go somewhere else for less money as his performances have been woeful, not a premier league footballer by some distance, him going to an average championship club will prove this, he supposed to be at his peak.

SanMarco added 14:43 - Feb 9
Very fair report. I think they can all go. Perhaps keep Caballero short term to back up but let's clear them out. No animosity, just common sense.

My worry for the summer is that the dirty money from way up north is going to lead to the loss of Salisu. I suspect we will lose Broja too so that will be our main CB and main attacker gone. Hopefully it won't happen but the idea of a smooth strengthening with no unwanted departures doesn't sound like Saints !!

cocklebreath added 16:28 - Feb 9
I’d give Willy a year contract and maybe Stephens a year, that’s it

Peterx added 06:07 - Feb 13
Maybe Shane can get a semi coaching / playing in an emergency role, he seems to be a positive influence.

I think FF should be retained as his form has been excellent, Macca can go with our eternal thanks for the Swansea save. Caballero has been solid but is going to be surplus to requirements assuming we are going to sign a new number one or at least someone to battle it out with FF.

I also think Jack should be given another contract as he was starting at the start of the season and playing well before his injury and he had an excellent 2nd half yesterday when he came on at Man U.

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