Southampton began preparations last week for the new season — their first back in the Championship after eleven consecutive years in the Premier League — but whether the squad they have now will be the same with which they will start their campaign remains to be seen.
As is often the case with relegated teams, wage bills need to cut, and in some cases, player ambitions need to be satisfied. Saints have already seen Mohamed Elyounoussi and Theo Walcott walk and let Mislav Oršić go barely six months after acquiring him, but the jewels of their squad are younger talents, such as Arnel Bella-Kotchap, Gavin Bazunu, Tino Livramento, and Roméo Lavia — all 21 or under.
The latter of those are familiar names indeed. Livramento’s of course the former Chelsea Academy Player of the Year, whom we let leave for just around £5-8m a couple years ago, but possibly with a buy-back clause (and a sell-on, too). Lavia meanwhile was linked last summer, just weeks after he joined them from Manchester City — an ultimately quite silly story that was debunked, but Southampton’s talent ID man, Joe Shields has since moved to Chelsea, so there are dots to connect if you’re into that sort of thing.
To help you with that, here’s a story from the Mail about Chelsea having “held talks” with Southampton about Livramento, for “a potential deal [...] that would entail loaning him back”. So that’s a bit of a weird one, but apparently Newcastle United are also sniffing around, so presumably we don’t want Tino to end up at a potential top-four rival instead. The story claims that So’ton value Livramento at £38m, which is well above our supposed £25m buy-back. So it would be a win-win deal either way, given the circumstances. Tino missed almost all of last season with an ACL tear, but should be fully fit for the new campaign.
The Lavia angle is a bit less defined, but reports from France claim that we (and at least Liverpool as well) have sounded him out over a move, though have not yet talked with Southampton about any sort of deal. Chelsea’s fictional bid last summer was an eyebrow-raising £50m, but maybe we could get a second-division discount now?