Southampton have received a huge end-of-season boost with the news that Jay Rodriguez has signed a new four-year contract at the club.
In what was a turbulent time for the Saints, they lost a number of key players during the last summer transfer window. Liverpool raided them on three occasions for Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren, whilst Arsenal took Calum Chambers and Manchester United signed Luke Shaw. And, of course, head coach Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham Hotspur.
Had Rodriguez not suffered a serious injury against Manchester City in the prior April, there would almost certainly have been bids for his signature too. The 23-year-old was enjoying a fine campaign up to that point, hitting 15 goals in 33 league appearances and earning a first full international cap for England, and he had been linked with a host of top-flight rivals.
But the cruciate knee injury he sustained in that 4-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium, whilst obviously a huge blow to the player and the team, at least prevented interest in his services ahead of the current season. The striker is now back in full training, but there is unlikely to be renewed enquiries for his transfer this summer after he signed a new contract at St Mary’s.
“I’m delighted,” he told the official club site. “It’s a great club and we’ve done amazingly this year. It’s been a tough year being out, but I’m really delighted to sign the contract. It’s now about looking forward to the future. The medical staff have all worked tirelessly with me, so this is great news. I just want to carry on improving now and to try to get some game time.”
For some time this season it looked as though Southampton could push for a top-four finish in the Premier League, but their lack of squad depth has ultimately shown and they are now in a race with Spurs and Swansea City for the top-six. But looking ahead to the 2015/16 campaign, head coach Ronald Koeman is delighted he can count upon the returning Rodriguez.
“This is very good news for the club because there was some speculation about Jay and interest from other big clubs, so it is a compliment to the club that we have an agreement,” he said. “Jay has been doing everything to come back in a good shape. It’s a good start to the summer business for us because it shows that everyone here is convinced by what we want to achieve.”
How big a boost is it for Southampton that they will have Jay Rodriguez amongst their number next season, and how important a role can he play in the first team?