May 18, 2024

 

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Years of having their best players poached by the Premier League’s elite caught up with Southampton last season. After an 11-year stay in England’s top-flight, the Saints were relegated to the Championship.

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Express Sport looks at a team of active players who Southampton have sold in recent years.

Fraser Forster

Southampton have not been blessed with top-quality goalkeepers over the years, but Fraser Forster enjoyed a successful eight years on the South Coast after arriving from Celtic in 2014. The six-cap England international played 162 times for the Saints, keeping clean sheets in almost a third of those games, before moving to Tottenham in 2022.

Cedric Soares

Any back four of former Southampton defenders would be rich with talent. Cedric Soares replaced Nathaniel Clyne in 2015 following the latter’s departure to Liverpool.

Many Southampton fans may argue that the Portuguese was an upgrade on Clyne. The now-32-year-old joined Arsenal in 2020.

Football – Premier League – Manchester City v Southampton

Virgil van Dijk starred for Southampton before his Liverpool transfer (Image: Getty)

Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool captain Van Dijk has gone on to become one of the best centre-backs in world football. Despite recent criticism of his performances, the Dutchman has won the Premier League and Champions League at Anfield.

It is a deal that nearly didn’t happen – Southampton reported Liverpool for an alleged illegal approach, with the Reds insisting that they had ended their interest. But just six months later in January 2018, Jurgen Klopp finally got his top defensive target. Van Dijk has gone on to become a Liverpool legend.

Dejan Lovren

Not quite such a Liverpool legend is Dejan Lovren. Revered at Southampton after an excellent 2013-14 campaign, the Croatian became one of many players to switch the Saints for Liverpool in the mid-2010s.

Lovren split opinion on Merseyside but was still on their books for their Champions League and Premier League triumphs in 2019 and 2020, respectively. He now plays for Ligue 1 strugglers Lyon.

Luke Shaw

Shaw was destined to leave Southampton from his early teens, such was the hype around the young left-back. The Saints ultimately held on to their most precocious talent since Gareth Bale until 2014, when Manchester United paid a then-record fee for a teenager of £30m.

Now 28, Shaw overcame a tough period out of United’s team under Jose Mourinho. He is now a regular for the Red Devils and England, scoring in the Euro 2021 final for the Three Lions.

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Luke Shaw was snapped up by Man Utd after graduating Man Utd’s academy (Image: Getty)

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Midfielder Hojbjerg was an excellent £12.8m signing from Bayern Munich, playing 134 times. The Dane moved to Tottenham in 2020 and despite being a key player for the North Londoners since his £20m switch, the 28-year-old has struggled for game time in the last year.

Hojbjerg was linked with a loan to Man Utd in the summer but it failed to materialise.

Oriol Romeu.

There was plenty of shock when Romeu rocked up at former club Barcelona in the summer. The defensive midfielder’s career appeared to be on the decline when he left Southampton for Girona a year ago, but he has since moved to Barca.

Romeu made 256 appearances for Southampton after joining from Chelsea in 2015. He has played nine times for Barca since his return to the Spanish giants this term.

RCD Mallorca v FC Barcelona – LaLiga EA Sports

Former Southampton star Oriol Romeu rocked up at Barcelona this season (Image: Getty)

James Ward-Prowse

Had Southampton not been relegated from the Premier League, Ward-Prowse would surely have seen out his career with the club. Having debuted aged just 16 in 2011, the midfielder spent 12 years in the first team and became an iconic figure, not least for his set-piece expertise.

Ward-Prowse joined West Ham in the summer and is already a fans’ favourite in East London. Now 28, he is a household name in the Premier League.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Like Shaw, Southampton were never going to be able to keep a teenage Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal signed the attacker in 2011 and he quickly became a regular star under Arsene Wenger.

Having seen his career stall, Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool in 2017 – in part due to a desire to play in midfield. The Portsmouth-born ace spent six years under Klopp but several injuries saw him finally depart in the summer – joining Besiktas on a free transfer.

Southampton v Manchester United – FA Cup 4th Round

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played for Southampton before joining Arsenal.

Dusan Tadic

Tadic was effectively signed as a replacement for Adam Lallana in 2014, with Lallana departing for Liverpool that summer. The Serbian star did not quite have the same impact as his predecessor, despite scoring 24 goals in 162 appearances.

It was at his next club, Ajax, where Tadic’s career took off. He bagged 105 goals in 241 games for the Dutch outfit. Tadic joined Fenerbahce in the summer.

Sadio Mane

Another Southampton star who Liverpool swooped in to sign was forward Mane, who spent just two years at St Mary’s. He scored 25 goals in 75 appearances for the Saints, including a hat-trick against Liverpool the year before he was plucked from Hampshire.

Mane went on to became part of a famed front three at Anfield alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. He left for Bayern Munich in 2022 but struggled in Germany, before becoming one of the many players to depart for Saudi Arabia in the summer – joining Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr.

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