Southampton have managed to come a long way from being labelled the model club. The south coast club danced dangerously close to being relegated this season and it would have been a travesty if this group of players sunk to the Championship.
In the end, Mark Hughes’ side did enough to beat the drop but they cannot afford another season as poor as this one next term. Southampton are now in the process of handing Hughes a new contract as a reward for keeping the club up and it sounds like the players have responded well to his arrival.
Southampton would have learned a few harsh lessons about the volatility of the Premier League this season and have a lot to work on over the summer.
SUCCESS – MARIO LEMINA
There were few positives in Southampton’s season but Mario Lemina did at least manage to show what a talented footballer he is.
Tottenham have reportedly earmarked Lemina as a potential long-term replacement for Mousa Dembele and it’s easy to see why.
Lemina is a powerful ball carrier and rarely loses possession when taking on an opponent, just like Dembele.
In fact, of players that attempted at least 50 dribbles in the Premier League this season, Lemina had the best success rate (88.7%).
Niggling injuries only limited Lemina to 20 starts in the Premier League this season and Southampton’s record when he started (25% win ratio) suggests they would have beaten the drop more comfortably had he been available more often.
FLOP – SOFIANE BOUFAL
Other than his goal of the season contender against West Brom, Sofiane Boufal has been a huge disappointment since joining Southampton in 2016.
The 24-year-old was even banned from first-team affairs by Hughes towards the end of the season and is now looking to leave the club and return to France.
Boufal has only started 30% of Southampton’s league matches since the start of last season, scoring three goals in that period.
The Morocco international has at least displayed his dribbling qualities in the last two years. Of players that have made at least 10 appearances during that period, only Eden Hazard (1 every 14.7 minutes of action) completes a dribble more frequently than Boufal (every 19.9 minutes).
Grade - E