Southampton completed the signing of Charlie Austin on Saturday, and manager Ronald Koeman is clear on what he expects from £4million man: goals.
Austin proved he can mix it with the best defence’s in the country last season, when he scored 18 times for a Queens Park Ranger side who were relegated in May. The 26-year-old was linked with a host of top-flight clubs during the summer, yet with some doubts over his injury record, there were no takers so he began the campaign in the second-tier where he has scored 10 goals.
The former Burnley man was due to become a free agent at the end of the campaign when his contract at Loftus Road was up, but the Saints have muscled in now to take him to St Mary’s for what would seem to be a bargain price of £4million. Speaking after the 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Koeman talked enthusiastically about his new signing.
“I hope goals because that’s the reason why he was and is our target for the transfer window,” he replied when he was asked what he wanted from Austin. “We need a player like him. His numbers of goals, everybody knows. Still he is 26 and it is good to have him now because that’s good for the adaptation. What we try to do is try to make the squad stronger.”
Austin hasn’t played since the middle of last month due to a hamstring injury, and it remains unclear when he will be available for first team contention. Koeman went on to explain he and his medical staff will monitor the fitness of the striker on Monday and Tuesday, after which they will have a better idea of when they may be able to call upon a player QPR rated at £15million last summer.
The comfortable win over the Baggies, meanwhile, lifted Southampton into the top-half of the table in what has been a difficult second season for Koeman following last term’s seventh-place finish. They achieved this with a haul of 60 points – a tally they have exactly half of now – yet they are only two points behind their finish of last season with 16 games left to play.