Southampton have spent the majority of their summer reluctantly allowing the core of their side leave the club with Ronald Koeman the new man at the helm, charged with rebuilding the seem and restoring the feel good factor to the South Coast club.
In truth it has been sad to see the Saints have their prize assets stripped with relative ease. But as they proved at Anfield last Sunday, they are not going to waste time feeling sorry for themselves after an impressive performance against the Merseysiders who have been the beneficiaries of no less than three of their former favourites.
However, despite new signings Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic showing promise, the Dutch manager is keen to do business with the club that snatched the finest ever talent to grace the St. Mary’s Academy away from Southampton in the form of Gareth Bale.
Andros Townsend is the player that Koeman has his eye on, according to reports, but at a fee north of £10 million, should Southampton seriously pursue his signature or would such an addition prove costly to the club that is very much cash rich at present.
Well, while the majority of Southampton players boarded the plane to Brazil in unlikely circumstances Townsend’s fate was akin to that of the unfortunate Jay Rodriguez. The Spurs man had to settle for a place on the pundits’ deckchair on the Copacabana beach after he missed the cut for the Three Lions.
Meanwhile, the winger first gained exposure during a loan spell with Queens Park Rangers during the tail end of the 2012/13 campaign creating 15 chances and scoring twice courtesy of several eye catching displays.
But he first announced himself as a major asset to the White Hart lane outfit when he sprang onto the scene with a stunning debut goal for England against Montenegro in October 2013. He soon forced his way into Spurs team on a regular basis but the widespread band wagon surrounding him has now come to halt with the onus on him to prove he is worthy of the praise he has previously received.
We were given a hint as to his stature at Spurs when he was only called upon as a substitute for the last half an hour against West Ham last weekend and looks destined to play a bit-part roe during the forthcoming season. If he is to muscle his way into Roy Hodgson’s squad once more, regular football would be needed.
Capable on either flank, although he has admitted he now prefers the right, despite being left footed at Southampton he would be fielded as part of a front three. But does he have the necessary defensive capabilities to playing Koeman’s system? The high pressing of Pochettino has diminished but the signs at Anfield suggest the side will still very hard working.
Last season aerial duels were predictably not a strong point, while he showed plenty of drive to engage in other challenges, with a total of 19 tackles won. But his strengths lie in a cracking take on ability, along with his natural pace.
Defenders are terrified of such an asset and Townsend is capable of pushing forward and whipping crosses into the penalty area. His talent could be an asset that Saints will need with Pelle up top – the powerful Italian will need good service if he is to repeat his goal tally from Eredivisie.
But Townsend scored just one last season himself, which was a fortuitous effort against Aston Villa that appeared to be a cross. He is not yet the complete article and although unlikely to be keen to drop down a perceived level, despite just 13 points between his current side and his potential employers, doing so would aid his development.
His sporadic appearances in north Lonon due to injury problems and fierce competition for places led to a mediocre total of 26 chances created. The Englishman lacked rhythm at times and his total was the least of the Tottenham’s wide men, bar Erik Lamela.
With his standing at Spurs far from certain the pursuit of his signature proves that Southampton are keen not to become yet another selling club. It is an ambitious move given his potential and that fact he remains on the fringes of the England squad.
Promoting from within is a commendable strategy and has served Southampton well of late. James Ward Prowse is testament to their production line after a summer of departures, but purchasing from their rivals rather than being resigned to seeing their players join them is an option that should not result in noses being turned up in the air.
Meanwhile, Townsend would surely strengthen their options, but for a club used to churning out English talent at an impressive rate, the price tag may be too much. The vast inflated fees attributed to those born on these shores is likely to decide whether the proposed move takes place but if it does not then the journey from nomadic loanee to cherished star is far from over for Townsend.