The 2022-23 season has not been a memorable one for Southampton. The Saints have gone through two managers in Ralph Hasenhuttl and Nathan Jones in their bid to retain their Premier League status. Sitting at the bottom of the table, it looks like this might finally be the year that they return to the Championship.
While the Saints still have time to try and keep their top-flight status, there is a good chance that discussions are being held behind the scenes regarding the steps that will need to be taken to generate revenue should they fall through the trap door.
Teams relegated from the Premier League receive three years’ worth of parachute payments which reduce each season they remain outside the promised land. But in a lot of cases clubs will need to sell players, usually the ones on the biggest contracts to help them adjust to the financial landscape of the second tier.
While Southampton’s players have been criticised throughout the season, there are some talented individuals among their ranks who could still have a future in the Premier League should they go down.
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Southampton’s captain and loyal servant, James Ward-Prowse, is regarded as the best set-piece taker on the planet. His ability to strike a dead ball is as beautiful as Leonardo Da Vinci’s best work and there are certainly going to be a lot of interested suitors if the Saints were relegated. The Sportsman has previously analysed why the midfielder should move on from the club he’s known his entire career, and relegation might be the deciding factor on whether he bids farewell or not.
Since his 2019 move from Birmingham City, Che Adams hasn’t quite set the world alight at St Mary’s but in his defence he has also been in a team that is constantly inconsistent. He has chipped in with goals over the four years with the Saints and he has regularly been linked with a move to both Leeds United and Everton (teams who are both also at risk of going down). He certainly has the attributes to entice a club that were to be promoted to the top flight and also those who are looking for extra firepower that are languishing at the lower end of the table.
Southampton pulled off an incredible deal to bring Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu to the club from Manchester City in the summer. Bazunu has made some incredible stops this year as his team have struggled to make an impact in the league, and given his performances on the international stage, he has the tools to become one of the best shot-stoppers in the world. There will definitely be clubs lining up for his services.
Another shrewd piece of business that Southampton pulled off in the summer was acquiring young midfielder Romeo Lavia from Man City. The Belgian youngster has been one of the few positives of a bleak season for Southampton and we already know that a lot of clubs are tracking his progress. It was reported that Chelsea were willing to offer around £50 million for him in January, six months after he joined the Saints for around £10.5 million. He has the skills to develop into an excellent midfielder and could end up being one that Manchester City regret letting go.
Centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap is another gem that Southampton uncovered in the summer as he joined from VFL Bochum. The young Frenchman has had some impressive performances despite a disappointing start to his career in England. At 21 years of age he still has a lot of time to develop and he possesses the attributes desired of a modern day defender. In a team that likes to knock the ball around, he could be a promising long-term asset.