Why Southampton should keep hold of Shane Long amidst Aston Villa links
According to latest reports on the Birmingham Mail, Southampton striker Shane Long is among the few Premier League forwards Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has considered in order to solve the striker crisis at the club.
Saints manager Mark Hughes did not even have Long on the bench for their league opener versus Burnley but the Republic of Ireland forward played 30 minutes in the 1-2 loss at the hands of Everton the week later.
Birmingham Mail further states that Bruce’s desire to sign a centre-forward before the loan window shuts is open to witness. There are plenty of players who are in a conversation with the manager and owner Nassef Sawiris. The Villa manager is a fan of Long, but it may be difficult to persuade a player to drop down and play for a Championship club.
In any case, Southampton must not miss out on signing him as they will need a player like Shane Long in their squad for the season ahead.
Long’s desire as a striker is vital
Long isn’t prolific when it comes scoring goals for fun or constantly hitting the target to test the opposition goalkeepers. However, what he does is something very unique, which generally aids other players to join in and score.
The 31-year-old is a willing runner in behind a defence to stretch the opposition, which simultaneously creates space for other runners to move up the pitch. He is used to chasing lost causes and always keeps defenders on toes as the striker is tenacious and clever enough to pinch the ball away if any unwanted liberty is taken against him.
Long is a perfect fit for a two-striker system, where the other striker is a genuine goalscorer. In this case, the Irish forward can run the channels, causing havoc to the opposing defenders. His strike partner will have the space to work in the central areas. Southampton have the likes of Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini to perform that role.
Mark Hughes may need the services of the 31-year-old because the above three centre-forwards aren’t particularly agile and active all the time. They are more of finishers rather than defender-occupiers. So in games where the Saints don’t have too much possession, the agility will be provided by Long.
The Irishman is a proper team player, who will give his 100% everytime he steps onto the pitch. Southampton require players like him to stay, play certain games and be an impact substitute in other games. Hence, they should not let Villa have a sniff of the player this summer.