Who will Claude Puel bring to St. Marys?
A goalkeeper to provide backup to Fraser Forster is a high priority this summer. With Kelvin Davis retiring and on-loan Maarten Stekelenburg reuniting with Ronald Koeman having looked no more than average in the 5 months he replaced the injured Forster, only Paulo Gazzaniga remains on the books to challenge the England goalkeeper. Whilst only young, Gazzaniga has looked unconvincing in the majority of games he`s played although he did impress during the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace back in December which could quite easily have been a thrashing were it not for the young Argentine`s heroics. Euro 2016`s Northern Ireland star Michael McGovern has been linked recently. The free agent whose contract recently expired at Hamilton saw his stock rise heavily with solid performances in his country`s narrow 1-0 defeat to Poland and 2-0 win against Ukraine before a goalkeeping masterclass against a Germany side who would have been disappointed with just a 1-0 victory over Michael O`Neill`s side. Whilst Northern Ireland failed to make it past the last 16 having lost to Wales, McGovern won many plaudits and may be willing to join his compatriot Steven Davis at Southampton.
Also linked in the goalkeeping department is West Ham`s number two Darren Randolph. The ex-Birmingham and Charlton stopper was first choice for the Republic of Ireland in France as they reached the last 16 before falling to the hosts in a 2-1 defeat at the Stade des Lumieres. He is said to be on Southampton`s radar and is available for £3m.
In defence the weakest links are arguably right-back and a backup centre-back or even long-term replacement for Jose Fonte. Jordan Amavi was one of the few bright sparks in Aston Villa`s miserable season before injury ruled him out of the majority of the campaign. Having played under Claude Puel at Nice, the young French left-back is being linked with a reunion with his former boss. Also linked is Lille`s versatile full-back Djibril Sidibe who is reportedly also a target for PSG and Monaco. Wolves` Dominic Iorfa and Walsall`s Rico Henry are said to be targets as well although they are seen more as players for the future.
Oriol Romeu will be hoping to fill the void left by Victor Wanyama in midfield next season. With Europe to think about however, more competition will be needed and Atletico Madrid`s Thomas Partey is one potential name in the frame. Partey was a late substitute in the Champions League final and is one player being looked at to replace the Kenyan. Belgian midfielder Dennis Praet is reportedly still a target for Southampton, albeit in a more attacking role rather than as a Wanyama replacement. Hungarian starlet Adam Nagy was said to be on the verge of a move to St. Marys, Claude Puel however reportedly stalled this deal in order to take a closer look at his current squad before deciding where to strengthen. The deal may now fall through because of this and Benfica are keen on acquiring his services meaning a move to Portugal could be more likely for the Ferencvaros midfielder. Turkey`s young midfielder Ozan Tufan is another target.
Several wingers are being targeted, most likely as replacements for Sadio Mane even with the signing of Nathan Redmond which may be more of a replacement for Juanmi. Despite apparent targets Hatem Ben Arfa signing for PSG and Ahmed Musa supposedly on the verge of a move to Leicester, Claude Puel still has plenty of options available. Cristian Tello of Barcelona is said to be keen on a return to Fiorentina where he spent the previous season on loan although Liverpool and Southampton and both interested. Sofiane Boufal is the most exciting possibility at the moment with a bid of 30 million euros said to be in the pipeline for Lille`s highly-rated Moroccan winger. Rumours linking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a return to the club where he first made his name have cooled off in recent weeks but could be reignited as the summer progresses.
In the striking department, Italian penalty flop Simone Zaza remains a target for the club. The Juventus man who was widely mocked for his infamous slow stutter runup as he missed in the Euro 2016 quarter final penalty shootout defeat to Germany could be available as he finds himself down the pecking order in Turin despite the departure of Alvaro Morata. Wales hero Hal Robson-Kanu is another man said to be a target. A free agent having been released by Reading at the end of the season, Robson-Kanu struck goals against Slovakia and Belgium in France. This has led to rumours linking him with many Premier League clubs including Southampton although Reading fans seem to believe he was barely good enough for them at the lower end of the Championship, let alone being Premier League quality.