Southampton's ex appeal
It's hard to remember a team so mercilessly picked apart over a summer transfer window than the current situation at Southampton. Five first-team players have left the club, and while the Saints board are keen to stress that there won't be any other stars heading for the exit door, teams continue to be mooted with an interest in those who impressed last season.
It began at the very top, with Mauricio Pochettino poached by Tottenham, having guided Southampton to their highest-ever Premier League finish (eighth). The players he managed to mould into such an efficient team, averaging the best possession share in the top flight (58.6 percent), were always likely to attract interest.
Saints fans were probably resigned to losing two or three of those who shone last season, but wouldn't have expected the need for such a drastic overhaul. In this piece, WhoScored.com look at the stats to suggest the bang the respective buying clubs have got for their buck, and whether Southampton were right to sell.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Having forked out a fee in the region of 30 million pounds for teenager Shaw, new United boss Louis van Gaal is less than impressed by the full-back's fitness levels right now. It's the physical side of his game that perhaps inflated his price tag after all. Shaw has bulked up over the past two seasons and is explosive in transitions between defence and attack; perfectly capable of running with the ball at speed, too.
He's deemed "very strong" at dribbling according to WhoScored.com's statistically calculated characteristics and it's little surprise given that only Seamus Coleman completed more successful dribbles from the back last season (56). His pace makes him hard to beat going the other way, while his strength ensures he's an intimidating opponent, despite his tender years, completing 2.1 tackles per game.
With Patrice Evra's departure rumoured for some time before his eventual transfer to Juventus, United needed a player to hold down the left-back spot for the years to come. Given that Van Gaal is likely to experiment with the three-man back line that proved so successful with Netherlands at the World Cup, Shaw's fitness will be key in a wing-back role. If he plays out the entirety of his five-year contract at the club and beyond then the fee may well be justified. For Southampton, there was simply no option.
Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
With an agreement reached that could rise to a total sum of around 25 million -- 25 percent of which goes to Bournemouth -- Saints' arm was twisted once more in selling their former captain. It's understandable. Though he's only recently broken into the international setup, Lallana is now 26. Liverpool aren't really taking a gamble on potential but are paying for a player set to come into the peak of his powers. The playmaker has the ability on the ball to make a name for himself at Anfield but isn't always on song.
Lallana was dispossessed more times than any other player in the Premier League last season (93), and only one player gave away the ball due to a loose touch more often (91). The England international is certainly a talent, but whether he's worth that amount to a side as well stocked in attacking midfield positions as the Reds are is perhaps up for debate. Southampton's decision to cash in was certainly reasonable.
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Croatian centre-back Lovren's worth to Liverpool is perhaps more in line with his 20 million-pound price tag. The Reds were not short of creativity or firepower last season but they were far from watertight at the back, conceding 50 goals -- two more than Crystal Palace and four more than the Saints. With both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger linked with moves away from the club over the past year it seems a permanent partner for Mamadou Sakho was desired, while Lovren's addition also enables Brendan Rodgers to continue to rotate to a back three.
Having only made the move to St Mary's last summer, it's fair to say that the fans wouldn't have expected to make any immediate profit on the 8.5 million pounds they shelled out for the former Lyon defender's services. Lovren, at 25, is still very young for a centre-back and settled into Premier League life with consummate ease. Having led the side in both aerial duels won (101) and interceptions (84) last season, he earned the highest rating at Southampton from WhoScored.com (7.32), with Liverpool addressing a clear flaw in their team for their money this time.
Calum Chambers (Arsenal)
With long-serving right-back Bacary Sagna heading to title rivals Man City and understudy Carl Jenkinson set to be on his way out of the club to boot, the need for reinforcements was necessary at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger's decision, however, to splash what could be an eventual 16 million pounds on the teenage Chambers raised eyebrows, as he had already secured the services of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle for 12 million pounds.
It's a self-confessed gamble on the manager's part, but one he is confident will pay off due to the defender's ability to cover a number of different positions. Sagna was capable of filling a void at centre-back when needed, and Wenger hopes Chambers will offer the same versatility. It's certainly not something many would have witnessed in his short career thus far, though, with each of his 18 career league starts up to now coming at right-back.
With strengths of passing, aerial duels and concentration according to WhoScored.com, the 19-year-old has an impressive set of traits for such a young age but only time will tell if he justifies his price tag. Again, for Southampton there was little choice, and with Nathaniel Clyne already in their ranks it's a good deal on their part, enabling them to strengthen in areas more exposed by this summer's exodus.
Rickie Lambert (Liverpool)
Perhaps the most surprising departure of the lot was that of Rickie Lambert. A key player for the Saints, most probably felt that the south coast was where his career would end -- at least his top-flight one. Having plied his trade in the lower leagues, the forward made the step up in impressive fashion, netting 28 Premier League goals over the last two seasons.
He's nowhere near as prolific at the top flight but the 32-year old is an intelligent player and offers as much in overall team play as he does when it comes to a direct goal-scoring threat. Though his age makes the 4 million-pound transfer fee a reasonable one from Southampton's perspective, his importance to the way the side have played since their return to the Premier League has perhaps been undervalued by the club.
The fact that Lambert is a huge Liverpool fan undoubtedly played a part. His was the first departure of the five here, and Saints won't have expected this scenario when he was sold, but had another club come in for the front man they would unlikely have sold. There was a feeling that they owed it to a man whose goals fired them to the top but, despite the arrival of Graziano Pelle, they may be regretting the deal now. For Liverpool it represents a drop in the ocean with regards to their budget and offers valuable strength in depth given their increased competition commitments.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.