Are Southampton right to buy players to cover for injured stars?

It’s not uncommon for Premier League clubs to sign a player as cover following an injury or two, but this week Southampton shook the tree somewhat by making such a signing before the season has even started.

The signing of Cuco Martina from Dutch Eredivisie club FC Twente was unusual not only in terms of its signing but also in terms of its permanence – the 25-year-old joined on a two year deal.

Emergency loans exist for a reason of course – injuries can be unpredictable and clubs need to be able to react to unforeseen circumstances – and even standard loans are typically intended to address a short term need (at the top level at least).

In this situation, Southampton claim to have signed the Curaçao international as a result of injuries to Ryan Bertrand (facing a number of weeks on the sidelines following knee surgery) and 20 year old Bevis Mugabi. The party line from the club is that these injuries “highlighted the need to bring in another defender” according to Les Reed, Southampton’s Director of Football. However, you have to wonder at the club not noticing that particular gap until the injuries had already occurred!

It’s the sort of short-sightedness that has cost sides like Arsenal a shot at titles in the last few years. The 2014-15 season saw a terrible start for the Gunners with a number of defensive injuries, and the January addition of Gabriel was somewhat akin to closing the door after the horse has bolted.

This year the North Londoners are one of the hottest tips for the title (you can get great odds and a £200 free bet with 10bet on Arsenal ending their ten year drought, read the full review here) and holders Chelsea are again in the mix.

The Blues are another interesting club, having secured that title with just six senior defenders. None of those defenders missed any significant chunks of the season, but that level of gambling is surely similar to playing roulette with your life savings. Mourinho is unlikely to get away with it a second year in a row.

If Southampton’s latest summer signing was down to a lack of planning, Ronald Koeman should perhaps count himself lucky that Bertrand and Mugabi suffered their injuries during a period he could do something about it and before the season started.

Otherwise, he may have found himself falling foul of the old adage: “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.”

The destination of next season’s title may depend on how well the managers in the upper echelons of the league follow suit and plug the gaps in their own squads.

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