[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver recent years it is hard to find a Premier League club that has operated more astutely in the transfer market than Southampton, with the south coast outfit becoming renowned for selling players for a considerable profit and replacing them in kind at a fraction of the cost.
The St Mary’s Stadium outfit have lost right-back Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool this summer, with Portuguese defender Cédric Soares and ex-Twente star Cuco Martina scouted as options to replace him.
Despite Clyne’s ability meaning he will be missed, a more significant departure for the Saints comes in the form of Morgan Schneiderlin’s sale to Manchester United.
The France international has been an enigma in the Southampton team that has risen from the Football League to become a top-eight Premier League side.
Last summer, while Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and club captain Adam Lallana were all allowed to leave, Schneiderlin was seen as too integral a player to be sold – even though he wanted to be.
The box-to-box midfielder enhanced his reputation further with stellar showings for Southampton last term and this summer the St Mary’s side have relented and given the player a chance to play Champions League football at Old Trafford.
However, a telling reason behind Southampton’s change of policy regarding the talismanic Schneiderlin may well have been the availability and subsequent capture of Jordy Clasie as his replacement.
The Netherlands international has moved to the south coast side for a fee believed to be in the £8 million bracket and straight away looks like an ideal substitute for Schneiderlin.
Expecting the 24-year-old to take to English football as quickly as the likes of Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić and Sadio Mané did last term may well be unfair, but in the longer term, once Clasie finds his feet at Southampton, he has all the attributes to be just as influential as Schneiderlin was.
The 24-year-old came through the ranks at the Rotterdam club and has been a vehement figure in the side’s midfield for the last four seasons.
While the Eredivisie side’s other top talents such as Stefan de Vrij, Pellè and Bruno Indi Martins were stolen away, Clasie remained loyal to his boyhood club – despite prolonged interest from illustrious foreign suitors.
It took a project worthy of his boundless effort and dedication to pry him away from Feyenoord and it took Ronald Koeman to convince him it was at Southampton.
The Saints boss was the man to give Clasie his big break in the Feyenoord first team and has played a considerable role in moulding the battle-axe into the dynamic international midfielder he is today.
A reunion on the English south coast between coach and star player has all the hallmarks of a success story, with the player able to call upon his mentor to further the education.
To call Clasie influential is an understatement given previous performances in his homeland, but the transition from Eredivisie to Premier League is not an easy one.
The Dutchman will surely become a fans favourite at St Mary’s due to his work-rate, dedication and never-say-die attitude, with a partnership with Victor Wanyama a daunting physical challenge for Premier League opposition next term.
However, Clasie will need to be afforded time to adjust to the faster pace and higher standard of English football, while the technical and positional sides of his game will develop under Koeman’s tutelage once more.
Although Schneiderlin could well be a hit at United, Southampton have arguably signed a player that has the ability to be just as good in the medium term, making a £16 million profit in the process in typical Saints fashion.
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