World Cup Watch: 3 replacements Southampton must target
Whoever takes over at Southampton following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure will have their work cut out for them, with Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw expected to join their Liverpool-bound England teammate Rickie Lambert out of St Mary’s.
Luckily, owner Katharina Liebherr is widely thought to be preparing a £50m rebuild fund for the new man in charge.
Here’s three World Cup hopefuls who could slot right in on the south coast.
Sime Vrsaljko – Croatia – Full-back
After making just six appearances for Croatia since his 2011 debut, the 22-year-old Genoa regular looks to be in line for a start at right-back against Brazil in the opening match of World Cup 2014, owing to a defensive rejig brought about by Josip Simunic’s absence through suspension.
Vrsaljko can play in either full-back berth and posted similar passing averages and assist stats to likely departee Shaw in 2013/14, according to WhoScored.com.
The former Dinamo Zagreb youth lists Dani Alves – whose Canarinho hosts are 2/7 to down Croatia in Sao Paolo – as his footballing inspiration.
Wilfried Bony – Ivory Coast – Centre-forward
Lambert looks extremely likely to start next season at Anfield and Dani Osvaldo didn’t look much of a fit for the Premier League, so the new Saints boss will need to prioritise a replacement centre-forward.
Bony, who had been linked with Liverpool, could be gettable if Southampton offer Swansea a substantial profit on the £12m they paid Vitesse last summer.
The 25-year-old will compete with former Chelsea wrecking-ball Didier Drogba for a place up front for Ivory Coast, who look well placed to successfully traverse a Group C also containing Colombia, Japan and Greece at 1/1 odds.
Fabian Orellana – Chile – Winger
With Lallana currently being eyed by both old boss Pocchettino at Spurs and Brendan Rodgers’ Reds, St Mary’s will require a fresh injection of creativity on the wings, more especially considering the date for Jay Rodriguez’s return from injury is not yet clear.
They could do a lot worse than Alexis Sanchez’s international understudy Orellana, who was dubbed ‘The Historic One’ in his homeland after scoring the goal that gave Chile their first ever win over Argentina back in 2008.
Orellana scored five La Liga goals and laid-on a further six last season for Celta Vigo, who finished ninth in the Spanish top flight under Barcelona’s new boss Luis Enrique.
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