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Ralph Hasenhuttl: Premier League premium makes strengthening Saints squad tough

Southampton’s promising early league form hit the buffers this year as selection problems mounted.

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl accepts the squad needs some quality additions, which will come at a price (John Sibley/PA)

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl accepts the squad needs some quality additions, which will come at a price (John Sibley/PA)

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl accepts the squad needs some quality additions, which will come at a price (John Sibley/PA)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl accepts the club will have to face paying a Premier League premium as they aim to strengthen the squad during the summer transfer window.

The Saints showed plenty of early promise, briefly topping the table in November before then hitting the buffers as selection problems mounted heading into 2021.

Hasenhuttl openly admits the team need additional quality help if they are to progress again next season – and he knows that will come at a price.

“The big problem in the Premier League is when you ask for a new player in Europe or wherever, you automatically pay more money for him than other clubs all around the world,” Hasenhuttl said.

“It is not the same like buying a car where everybody pays the same, the price tag is always a different one.

“If you want to buy somebody who is not expensive, then you have a problem with the work permit in England, so there is not really a solution.

“You are killing yourself a little bit in this, especially in the teams who are not able to pay transfer fees like £20million or £30million.

“You see today that when you ask for an interesting player, it very often starts with £20m and we are not able to spend this money in this moment, but this is how it is.

“We then have to pick a few players who maybe have the chance one time to become really good players, they all must fit perfectly for us.

“This is the problem we have here at this club and this is nothing new.”

Even though Southampton were able to battle through to the FA Cup semi-finals, losing to Leicester at Wembley, Hasenhuttl believes their dramatic downturn in league form highlights just why better back-up is needed.

“It shows us that when you want to be constantly in these areas of the Premier League, it is not possible to outperform all of the time,” the Saints boss said.

“You have to win some tight games with also some maybe of the B team or players who are not playing all of the time.

“But their quality this season was not good enough to lift us or give us a good alternative, this is the challenge for the summer, to make the squad bigger with more quality in every position.

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“Then you can also come into the situation where you can make a rotation like the big teams and still win the games.

“Otherwise it is not possible to be competitive. The season is too long, too tough.

“There are too many good teams there – you cannot go away to Manchester United like we did with academy players and also be competitive.

“This is not possible in the future and is the clear message. This is the challenge for the club in the summer… to give us more opportunities for every position.”

Hasenhuttl was overcome with emotion after Liverpool were beaten 1-0 at St Mary’s Stadium during January and the Austrian finally got the better of old friend Jurgen Klopp.

Despite Anfield not being the daunting trip of previous seasons, the Saints boss is expecting to be facing “a very tough opponent” on Saturday night.

Hasenhuttl said: “But a lot of teams have shown this season that it is possible to go there and take something. We go there to be brave and also looking for our chance.”

Despite the complex market, Hasenhuttl  hopes Southampton will still be able to land a bargain signing.

“The positive in the summer will be that a lot of clubs in Europe need money. They lost a lot of money because of the pandemic,” he said.

“That maybe gives you a chance to pick some players that you normally cannot pick, gives you a chance to get a cheap signing, but still a quality signing. These are things we have to look at.”

Hasenhuttl also feels the club must continue to keep ahead of their rivals across youth scouting.

“We also need to improve the academy because it is important to bring better young players in,” the Southampton manager said.

“The problem there is that bigger clubs are very early having them in their targets, the best talents we have around here in England, so you also end up here with the ‘B’ options, their limits are definitely there so you must see how far you can develop them.

“In this, the big clubs have a big impact on your chances of getting good young players.”

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