Over the years many of Europe’s top clubs have opted to sell their precocious young talents in big money transfers that seek to boost their club’s financial standing. From Benfica to Sevilla, Southampton to Lyon, clubs such as these have all chosen the option to sell their star players in an attempt to benefit from the reinvestment and financial growth that comes from these lucrative deals. However, would these clubs have fared any better if they had held onto their talented youngsters? Who knows? All we can really say is that these teams could have had a very handsome line-up had they opted not to sell…
In the final part of his piece, Tito Simonelli profiles Southampton and Sevilla, the proverbial stomping-grounds for young talent to be poached.
Not so much considered a top European club, however this south coast side has had a rich history of producing gifted young players that would go onto play for top clubs both in England and Europe. Their famous academy has been a source of great income for the saints, and has produced the highest number of players to be called up to the England National Team in recent years. However, Ronald Koeman’s men haven’t been damaged by the exodus of so many of their most prized players, finishing in the qualifying spots for the 2015-16 Europa League last season and now currently sitting in and around that area of the table. Nevertheless it must be said that if the Saints had held onto these players, they would undoubtedly be a major force to be reckoned with in the English Premier League. Here is the starting XI that could have been…
GOALKEEPER: Fraser Forster
Still with the saints, Fraser Forster has proved himself as one of the best shot stoppers in the Premier League as of late, playing a pivotal role in Southampton’s successful 2014-15 season.
RIGHT BACK: Calum Chambers
Now on the books at Arsenal, Calum Chambers is one of the many products of the Southampton academy that has gone onto play for the Gunners.
CENTRE BACK: Dejan Lovren
Lovren served the saints for only one season, but made a big enough impression to attract the attention of Merseyside club Liverpool, whom he signed for in 2014.
CENTRE BACK: Jack Stephens
Not really of the required quality to play in the Premier League just yet, but centre-back is arguably the only really weak position in this side.
LEFT BACK: Luke Shaw
Another product of the Saint’s academy, Luke Shaw’s performances for Southampton earned him a record breaking move to Manchester United in 2014. Although Ryan Bertrand is doing well for Southampton, Luke Shaw has definitely been sorely missed.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: Morgan Schneiderlin
A loyal servant for the Saints for 7 seasons, Schneiderlin would go onto sign for Manchester United in 2015 for a fee of £27 million.
MIDFIELD CENTRE: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Fast, strong and a character in the dressing room, Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain worked his way up through the Southampton Academy before being poached by North London club Arsenal.
MIDFIELD CENTRE: Adam Lallana
Yet another graduate of the academy, Adam Lallana is a player of undeniable quality, despite his move to Liverpool not exactly being as successful as he had hoped.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD RIGHT: Nathan Dyer
Another Saint’s academy product, Dyer’s pace alone makes him an unbelievably deadly winger, and he has been utilised superbly by Swansea.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD LEFT: Gareth Bale
Unquestionably the biggest success story to come out of the Southampton Academy, Gareth Bale has since become somewhat of a phenomenon since leaving the Saints. Bale went onto become a hero at north London Club Tottenham Hotspur during his time there, helping the club finish as high as 4th place in 2012 before eventually signing for Spanish giants Real Madrid the following year.
STRIKER: Theo Walcott
Well known for his blistering pace, Theo Walcott rose up through the Saints academy before moving onto London club Arsenal at the tender age of 16. Although Walcott can play as a striker, his speedy pace and ball crossing led his manager Arsène Wenger to deploy him on the wing for most of his career. He is currently still with the gunners.
Sevilla have often been a club associated with success in Europe. The winner of the Europa League the past two seasons and in with a chance of winning it this year as well, this team from southern Spain have somewhat of a Europa League pedigree. However, their performance in this year’s Champions League was fairly disappointing, finishing third in their group meaning an early exit from the competition. Perhaps the Sevilla side are not quite ready for the big time just yet. Maybe if they had held onto some of their big names they would be able to establish themselves in Europe’s premier competition. Here is the starting XI that could have been…
GOALKEEPER: Diego Lopez
A fine goalkeeper who impressed at Sevilla before joining Real Madrid, Diego Lopez is now in Serie A with AC Milan.
RIGHT BACK: Dani Alves
One of the finest right-backs of the last decade or so, Dani Alves has become something of a club legend at Barcelona since leaving Sevilla in 2008, winning a whole host of honours at the Nou Camp.
CENTRE BACK: Federico Fazio
Currently with London club Tottenham Hotspur, Federico Fazio emerged as a top class centre-back before leaving Sevilla in 2014.
CENTRE BACK: Sergio Ramos
Having left Sevilla at a young age, Sergio Ramos has since become one of the finest defenders of his generation, winning all there is to win in the game with Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. Perhaps the disciplinary side of his game needs a little bit of work though…
LEFT BACK: Alberto Moreno
Currently with Merseyside club Liverpool, Alberto Moreno left Sevilla in 2014 to become another big name departure from the club.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: Geoffrey Kondogbia
Currently with Italian side Inter Milan, Geoffrey Kondogbia is a highly promising French talent who first made a name for himself in La Liga with Sevilla.
MIDFIELD CENTRE: Seydou Keita
A long-serving midfielder at Barcelona who is now with A.S Roma, Seydou Keita started off his career in Spanish football with some fine form for Sevilla.
MIDFIELD CENTRE: Ivan Rakitic
Signed by Barcelona in 2014, Ivan Rakitic has shown himself to be a quality playmaker and put in some hugely impressive displays whilst with Sevilla.
MIDFIELD RIGHT: Jesus Navas
Brought to Manchester City in 2013, Jesus Navas may not have quite hit top form in England, but was a key performer during his time with boyhood club Sevilla.
MIDFIELD LEFT: Adriano
Yet another Barcelona player, Brazilian wing-back Adriano has had a good career at the Nou Camp since being poached from Sevilla.
CENTRE FORWARD: Alvaro Negredo
Now with Valencia after completing a permanent move from Manchester City, Alvaro Negredo caught the eye of several top clubs whilst firing in the goals for Sevilla.
Sporting C.P – Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Marcos Rojo
Valencia – Juan Bernat, Jordi Alba, Ever Banega, David Silva, Isco, Juan Mata
Wolfsburg – Andrea Barzagli, Kevin De Bruyne, Edin Džeko, Mario Mandžukic
Anderlecht – Vincent Kompany, Chancel Mbemba, Lucas Biglia, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aleksander Mitrovic, Romelu Lukaku
Shakhtar Donetsk – Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian
Just one last thing, imagine what Yugoslavia’s squad would have looked like if the country hadn’t broken up in 1992…
Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan)
Asmir Begovic (Chelsea)
Danijel Subasic (A.S Monaco)
Matija Nastasic (Schalke 04)
Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund)
Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Stefan Savic (Atletico Madrid)
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Ivan Perišic (Inter Milan)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Miralem Pjanic (A.S Roma)
Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona)
Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)
Alen Halilovic (Barcelona)
Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina)
Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan)
Mario Mandžukic (Juventus)
Edin Džeko (A.S Roma)
This is surely a squad capable of winning any international competition. If only…
Words by Tito Simonelli
Image courtesy of ‘Ben Sutherland’ via flickr.