The South Coast club released a statement on Thursday confirming their players have reached an agreement to defer their wages for April, May and June to make sure non-playing staff at the club are paid in full.
Saints also confirmed they will not use the UK government’s job retention scheme to furlough staff and that directors, coaching staff and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl will also defer their wages “to help protect the future of the club, the staff that work within it and the community we serve.”
“Furthermore, the club can confirm that it will not use the government’s Job Retention Scheme during April, May and June. Our owners, Mr. Gao and Katharina Liebherr have put measures in place to ensure that all staff not deferring part of their salaries will continue to receive 100% of their pay, paid in the normal way until 30th June. Any decision on the future beyond this date will be made in advance of this, but only when more information is known.”
Other Premier League clubs have been heavily criticized for signing up for the job retention scheme which sees the UK government pay 80 of wages to staff who have been furloughed. Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth have signed up for that scheme, while Liverpool initially did then apologized and reversed their decision.
Premier League clubs are currently negotiating with their players about wage cuts and deferrals during the COVID-19 outbreak but many are yet to come to an agreement, as it is believed Saints’ players and staff will defer well over 10 percent of their pay collectively.
Southampton have also been funding and delivering over 1,000 fresh meals per week to the most vulnerable people in the city of Southampton through their own charity, the Saints Foundation.
“Everyone at the club remains fully committed to the community we value so highly in Southampton. We will continue to offer our full support to the city of Southampton through the work of the Saints Foundation and provide any further assistance we can. We will continue to prepare our club for a return to the pitch and make sure that, when safe, we are ready to play and serve the people of Southampton again. Until then, We March On. Together.”
River Plate is one of many clubs that could use this coming transfer window to earn a payday after taking losses in the coronavirus shutdown, and that could come at the benefit of one Premier League club.
West Ham is apparently one of a few teams after Argentine international Gonzalo Montiel who could fetch River Plate somewhere in the vicinity of $24 million. The right-back is a River Plate youth product who established himself as a regular for the club at just 20 years old and has spent the last three seasons earning significant minutes. Now 23, Montiel is a strong passer who can create for teammates with long-range deliveries.
Argentine publication Ole mentions that Spanish side Valencia has shown interest of late, but also states that West Ham made contact in January but was turned down by River Plate and the Hammers could be suitors again once the next window arrives. Montiel was also linked with Crystal Palace by Goal back in late March, while Argentine newspaper El Intransigente linked the player with Southampton. Palace and Saints both make sense as they are both looking to replace big-name departures of late, with Crystal Palace still yet to truly replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Southampton has not seen much from those brought in to take over for Cedric Soares.
Barcelona is reportedly ready to lower its asking price on Philippe Coutinho, with a bid of $86 million potentially workable for the Catalan club, according to a report by the Evening Standard.
Coutinho was extremely poor in his season-and-a-half at Barcelona, and while the Brazilian playmaker had upped his game on loan at Bayern Munich before the coronavirus shutdown, the purchase price on his loan deal is a whopping $130 million, which Bayern Munich is not willing to pay.
Barcelona is desperately in need of funds to support its summer business, with Lautaro Martinez and Neymar both heavily linked with the La Liga giants. It’s highly unlikely that both will be possible to acquire given both the team’s business of late and the coronavirus shutdown causing financial strain on clubs all over the world, and a significant sale may even be needed to get one of them over the line. Coutinho provides such a possibility, but with Barcelona not exactly in a position of strength given Coutinho’s lack of recent star power and the club’s need to sell, dropping the asking price is a highly likely eventuality.
The Evening Standard report mentions that Barcelona believes the Premier League is the “most likely possibility” for a Coutinho suitor given the league’s memories of his incredible spell at Liverpool just a few years ago.
Speaking of the Premier League, Manchester United was reportedly close to securing a marquee striker last summer before eventually sticking with Marcus Rashford up front. Speaking to Italian print publication Tuttosport on Wednesday, Romelu Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said that the Belgian big man almost went to Juventus on a swap deal before Manchester United backed out of the transfer negotiations due to Dybala’s high wage demand. Eventually, Lukaku departed for Inter Milan where he settled in quickly and has contributed to a furious title challenge that just lost steam before the coronavirus shutdown.
Pastorello simply responded “It’s true” when asked if Dybala had been a focal point of Manchester United negotiations, but hedged his answer with, “Romelu, however, had always hoped to go to Inter because he was impressed by the affection of the Inter fans.”
An amazing academy: From Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Luke Shaw in recent years to Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier in the past, Southampton have always had a reputation of being eager to play youngsters and that helps massively with recruiting the best young players from around the UK and Europe. Their training facility in the New Forest national park is geared around developing young talent and if you are a fan of Southampton you’ve seen some of the best young talents in recent history pass through the club. The odd player like Le Tissier or James Ward-Prowse will stick around for their entire careers but one of the things we love most about Southampton is how often new players come through their academy. This season their most recent win against Aston Villa saw five academy products involved for Saints and one for Aston Villa, as they continue to develop top young talent which provides the club with players they don’t have to pay for, plus they can sell them on for huge profits. Will Smallbone, Michael Obafemi and Jake Vokins are the latest youngsters who will break through in the coming months. And so the conveyor belt continues.
Becoming the best feeder club in the Premier League: A feeder club, selling club, call it what you want, but there’s no doubt Southampton have become the top team to develop promising talent and then sell players on for huge profits. Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Morgan Schneiderlin were bought by Saints, improved at St Mary’s and then sold on for huge profits to the Premier League’s big boys. Southampton’s fans obviously do not enjoy seeing their best players sold each season but it provides them with valuable income to compete with the top 10 teams. Due to their huge overhaul in 2014 when Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham and Shaw, Calum Chambers, Lallana and Dejan Lovren followed him, new manager Ronald Koeman was able to lead Saints to seventh and sixth place finishes in back-to-back seasons. With four-straight top eight finishes from 2014 to 2017 with Europa League appearances and cup runrs, Southampton became the model of consistency despite losing their best players and managers. We have to give a special mention Pochettino and Koeman who both moved on to bigger jobs but owe Saints a lot for allowing them to thrive in the Premier League since their return to the big time in 2012. Moussa Djenepo, Jan Bednarek and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are the latest examples of players bought for relatively small sums from Europe and developed into Premier League regulars at Saints. Southampton are a family club and their is a close connection between the fans and players, which allows them to develop away from the spotlight of some of England’s bigger cities.
Danny Ings: The local lad played for Bournemouth, Burnley and Liverpool before returning home to play for his hometown team and boy has he made up for lost time. Ings, 27, didn’t get into Saints’ famed academy as a youngster and took a long, tough, winding round to get back to St Mary’s. After several injury-plagued seasons at Liverpool he is now fully fit and this season he’s been a revelation with 18 goals in all competitions for Saints. He is the reason they are clear of relegation trouble up until this point in the season. Everybody loves Ings. Jurgen Klopp and every single Liverpool fan adores him and there’s not a neutral out there who isn’t happy to see him scoring goals and playing with a smile on his face. Ings is on the verge of the England squad and he leaves everything out on the pitch each time he plays. He is wearing the number nine shirt and scoring goals for his hometown team and he grew up in a house just three miles from St Mary’s stadium. Ings is home and Southampton are so glad their $22.5 million signing from Liverpool is feeling comfortable and, most importantly, scoring goals.
‘Klopp of the Alps’ has a clear plan: It is safe to say Ralph Hasenhuttl has a clear playing philosophy and plan for Southampton and now he has been in charge for 18 months you can see things starting to come together. Southampton have one of the youngest teams in the Premier League so there’s still a lot of mistakes in their play, especially defensively, and Hasenhuttl has been hamstring by his predecessors making several mistakes in the transfer market with pretty much all of the $100 million they received from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 now spent on players who are out on loan. The so-called ‘Klopp of the Alps’ is expected to sign a new long-term contract at Saints in the coming months and he loves giving young players a chance to shine, just like he did at RB Leipzig before he arrived in the Premier League. Hasenhuttl loves young, hungry players who are brave, press high and excite the fans. After Leicester smacked Southampton 9-0 earlier this season, Hasenhuttl went back to basics and Saints have been superb in recent months with wins against Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham some of the highlights. Hasenhuttl completed his coaching badges in Germany at the same time as Klopp and their playing philosophy is eerily similar. The Klopp of the Alps looks set to stabilize Saints after recent relegation scraps and if he is ever handed money to spend, he could certainly push them back into the top 10.
In an interview with the Telegraph Charlie Austin, currently of Championship side West Bromwich Albion and formerly of Southampton and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, said he’s experienced symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19. In a separate tweet, he clarified that he hasn’t been tested for the disease, but once he started feeling symptoms and spoke with West Bromwich Albion’s doctor Kevin Conrad, he immediately self-isolated in his home. His family were advised to do the same for the standard 14-day period.
To clarify, doctor said my symptoms were consistent with coronavirus. I was not tested (as has been inaccurately reported elsewhere). As per majority with Covid-19 symptoms, I immediately self-isolated. This from @SamWallaceTel reports my story in detailhttps://t.co/AcmcByv5Hy
The 30-year-old striker stated he thought that he may have been infected while attending the Cheltenham Festival, an annual horse racing event that draws crowds of 250,000 and more. Austin said that he is going public with his diagnosis as a warning that despite rumors and reports that young people can easily battle the virus, his situation was proof that it’s a very serious health concern.
“Before I started feeling the symptoms on Saturday I was on the phone to my wife Bianca’s mother and I said to her that I hoped if anyone in our family got it that it would be me,” Austin said. “I felt like I was fit and healthy and I could handle it. A week later and I would say to anyone, even those in their 20s and 30s – ‘Don’t take it lightly – it’s serious’. I get that people who haven’t got it are going about their lives. Last week, I was living my life. Not that I didn’t take coronavirus seriously. But this is extremely serious and we should take it that way.”
Austin detailed how his temperature spiked over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, he developed a cough, and later had common symptoms associated with a fever. Austin’s point is to show that despite being in shape and a professional athlete, even he could suffer from the disease.
In his first season at West Bromwich after four years with Southampton, Austin has scored eight league goals in 26 matches. Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is the only soccer player in England’s top two leagues who has publicly revealed that he’s tested positive for the virus, along with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
Players from multiple Premier League clubs have been told to stay at home and train, a day after most returned to training as normal at their training grounds.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures on Monday as the UK changed its strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson said that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel,” and added that people “should avoid pubs, clubs, theaters and other such social venues.”
Man United, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Southampton are among the PL clubs who have sent their players home with a special workout plan as the players are in constant contact with medical and fitness staff.
Plenty of teams have given their players time off and many are not returning to training until March 23 or 24, as Arsenal will return on the latter date as they self-isolate due to manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for coronavirus. Newcastle will not return until Mar. 30, while Tottenham’s players will only train on weekdays.
“Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad have now been advised to follow individual fitness and conditioning programmes from home. Club medical and sports science staff will remain in regular contact with players and ensure they have the necessary equipment to maintain their fitness,” Southampton said in a statement.
CONCACAF has suspended play for a month, while UEFA postponed all fixtures next week ahead of a meeting to discuss plans for both club and international European competitions including the Champions League and Europa League.