Cortese's Saints go marching on

Monday 24th June 2013 17:23

Dejan Lovren: Saints' impressive new signing

Dejan Lovren: Saints' impressive new signing

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TEAMtalk guest Simon Yaffe believes Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese has made his intentions clear as the Saints look to keep marching on.

Southampton seem to have made their intentions clear already.

Having finished in 14th place in the Premier League last season, perhaps Saints fans could be forgiven for thinking that their club would want to consolidate during the next campaign.

But that just won't do for Southampton's forward-thinking chairman Nicola Cortese.

The Swiss businessman - who controversially sacked manager Nigel Adkins and replaced him with the Argentine Mauricio Pochettino in January - has dug deep to sign the Croatian centre-half Dejan Lovren from French side Lyon for £8.5 million.

And now they're among the front runners to sign the Belgian international Radja Nainggolan.

A combative 25-year-old midfielder, who is equally adept at playing on the left of a midfield three or on the left flank, has been targeted by a host of clubs across Europe, who hope to prise him away from Cagliari in Serie A.

Capped four times for his country, Nainggolan is among a so-called golden generation of Belgian footballers which are looking to perform heroics at next year's World Cup.

So could he join fellow Belgians such as Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertonghen in England?

Such giants as Inter Milan and Rome are also after Nainggolan - and he is unsure about the prospects of moving to Southampton, as he doesn't "play football for money".

But Saints fan can take comfort in the fact that Lovren was also coveted by Europe's top clubs last summer.

They went for other options and the same could happen with Nainggolan.

Signed by Piacenza from the Antwerp side Beerschot AC in 2007, he played in 38 matches in the 2008-09 season for the Serie B club, scoring three goals for an eventual 10th place finish.

Nainggolan's performances attracted the attentions of bigger teams and he moved on-loan to Cagliari in January 2010.

The Sardinians took up the option of signing him at the end of that campaign.

It was in his first season with Cagliari that Nainggolan - the son of a Belgian mother and Indonesian father - was called up to the senior Belgium national team.

Due to a strong midfield presence, he has only been capped four times since then - hence his desire to move to a bigger side and attract more attention from Belgium boss Marc Wilmots.

Nainggolan, whose current market value is around £12.5 million, would easily fit into a Saints midfield whose defensive play at times last season was suspect.

Pochettino prefers his teams to play on the counter and Nainggolan would be adept at breaking up play.

His defensive contribution, ball interception and tackling is extremely strong and Nainggolan would compliment the more attack-minded Jason Puncheon, Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez well.

With Celtic's Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama interesting Southampton, these are heady times at St Mary's.

To sign players of the calibre of Lovren and - potentially - Nainggolan could see the club pushing for a European place next season.



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