Les Reed believes the signing of Juanmi is further evidence of the ambition Southampton have to establish themselves as a force in England and abroad.
12 months ago there was genuine worry at St Mary’s following the departure of several first team players, as well as head coach Mauricio Pochettino who left for Tottenham Hotspur. But Ronald Koeman was brought in to replace the Argentine, and with a few shrewd additions, the Saints ended the season in seventh place and qualified for the UEFA Europa League.
This summer is likely to be far less problematic, with the focus very much on building on their achievements of last term. And they have started this with the £5.1million signing of 22-year-old Juanmi, who arrives from Malaga on a four-year contract. And Reed believes this addition is further proof that the club have lofty ambitions to succeed at home and abroad.
“Juanmi is a young, exciting and attacking player who fits into the club’s strategic plan perfectly,” the director of football told the official club website. “He has been tracked closely by our recruitment department for some time, and we were keen to act quickly when presented with the opportunity to bring this young player with international quality to Southampton.
“To have attracted a player of his potential is testament to our determination to build upon the achievements of the 2014/15 season and to continue to implement our long-term plan for the future. We will fully embrace the challenge of the Europa League and want to develop further in Europe over the seasons to follow. Juanmi’s arrival is an important step in this process.”
Juanmi – full name Juan Miguel Jimenez Lopez – has scored 20 goals in 99 appearances in all competitions for Malaga, and became their youngest ever scorer when he bagged against Getafe in the Copa del Rey back in 2010. His recent form has resulted in him being capped at full international level by Spain, and he is now relishing the prospect of playing in the Premier League.
“It’s a pleasure to be here and I am looking forward to being a part of this club,” he said. “I am anxious and I want to start as soon as possible. This is a big club and it has shown a lot of trust in me. It really, really is a big club. The style of football played here is similar to the way I play, so it’s a dream come true. Now I just want to start playing and to start scoring goals.”