Within the past week or so, Manchester United have signed one of Southampton’s most influential players in the shape of 25-year-old midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. Having been with the Saints since 2008, the Frenchman made over 260 appearances before leaving for Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils for an initial fee of £24million. Certainly a big blow for the Saints, but have they numbed the pain somewhat with a capable new arrival?
Ronald Koeman acted quickly and signed Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord for a reported fee of between £7million and £8million. Clasie has been a regular in the Feyenoord team for the past four season's and was eventually promoted to captain. He's now reunited with Koeman at Southampton - a manager he played almost every game under in the Eredivisie. Koeman was a major factor in pushing a young Clasie into the Feyenoord team so it comes as no surprise they are back together with the Saints.
Now, it’d be normal to think that Clasie will be a like for like replacement for Schneiderlin, especially for those who’ve never seen the former play before. In reality Clasie is a lot smaller and less solid than Schneiderlin, meaning his ability to break up play and start attacks isn’t as good. He shares a lot of similarities with the Frenchman though. He has a fantastic range of passing and loves to drive forward with the ball and create attacking moves, plus his ability to retain possession is fantastic and will be key to Southampton this season. The lack of interceptions and tackles in Clasie’s game could easily be put down to the tempo of the Eredivisie compared to the Premier League.
Victor Wanyama is the most likely candidate to partner Clasie in midfield and will act as the defensive minded midfielder covering the Saints’ defence whilst the Dutchman will act as the playmaker; creating chances and starting counter attacks. There is, however, the youngster James Ward-Prowse and the workhorse Steven Davies who could come into midfield. This would give that area of the pitch a more possession based feel and creating an emphasis on keeping the ball - a combination Clasie would work well in.
He has made 11 appearances for The Netherlands; two of these came at the 2014 World Cup, where he impressed on both occasions. Southampton is the right club for him, for me. He’s not been thrown in at the deep end at the top of club football, but he’s at a club with European football that don’t have the biggest of expectations to win the league. Southampton also have a rich history of developing young players throughout the years and Koeman should act as a great mentor to the midfielder.
The move also benefits Feyenoord; it is the perfect time for them to sell him, they couldn’t afford to hold onto him much longer as his value was rising and the risk of it falling due to injury may have been damaging. While Schneiderlin’s departure could well hinder Southampton’s quest for the Europa League trophy (and quite possibly Champions League qualification), the signing of Clasie can put Saints fans' minds at rest as the Dutchman looks very accomplished and deserves his chance abroad.
By Callum Read – @