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Calculated Risk?

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Under the ownership of the estate of Markus Leibherr and leadership of Nicola Cortese Saints have certainly not been afraid to throw the pennies around. Signing Rickie Lambert for £1 million mere months after coming out of administration raised many eyebrows. Gazzumping clubs for Jack Cork on re-entry to the championship raised a similar reaction in many quarters. Our Premier League status has now raised the bar further. £7 million for Jay Rodriguez, £12 million for Uruguayan International Gaston Ramirez. And now, continued stories that we have bid over 20 million euros for just two players already this window, Italian international defender Davide Astori and Brazilian wonderkid winger/attacker Coutinho.

“We are Southampton, we do what we want,” went the chant last year. It seems we are certainly trying to! Certainly not respecting our perceived standing in the Premier League pecking order we snapped Ramirez from under the noses of Spurs and Liverpool and now seem to be aiming for similar with these players. Villa, Liverpool, Juventus and Napoli are other names that have been linked with our targets yet all press reports state that we are in the pole position for Astori at least, and our interest in Coutinho is being confirmed in the same sources.

The first question has to be, where is the money coming from? The Premier League brings insane riches to it's members, yet these funds are very swiftly taken on player wage bills. If rumours are to be believed we were operating on a Premier League wage budget at Championship level, therefore the Premier League money was a necessity in the first place. So, these tens of millions of pounds we are spending, it has to be coming from somewhere. Is it a desperate and vulgar attempt to spend our way to safety? It is possible. However, based on the humility and prudence of our deceased owner. An owner who built a multi-billion engineering empire in his lifetime, it would be extremely out of character for a legacy he has left to operate in such an unprofessional and risky manner. Rumours still abound that Markus Liebherr left us a large 'fighting fund,' to operate with in his will. Sadly, I doubt we will ever know the full truth there.

The players we have signed; young, developing, growing, improving. Their value, in theory at least, will only go up as they get better. Should the worst happen and relegation ensues then yes, the star names will want to leave,but we should be able to get our money back through selling. Nicola Cortese has proven to be a mean negotiator with the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sale. That was a teenage kid with only league 1 experience, the players we are being linked with are internationals for some of the biggest teams in the world. “Financial fair play” may bring an end to this sellers market, but for the time being I believe the theory could hold.

It seems extremely strange to see us linked with such names when only 3 years ago it was Lee Barnard and John Otsemobor joining and going straight into our first eleven. It would have been perceived as pure fantasy to imagine the players of the kind of stature we are chasing joining us, yet it seems we are trying. After the Gaston Ramirez deal, who knows? It could happen. Whatever happens though, these players are being treated as assets, as commodities that will add value and appreciate in time. The money, in theory, could be safe.

It is a risky strategy, one career ending injury to a player signed in this manner could put the entire plan at risk, both in a footballing and financial sense (we better have good insurance!) Time will as always tell. We can only hope that the powers that be at the club have thought this through, I am 99.99% sure that they have as a banker such as Nicola Cortese should certainly know more about this type of financial dealing then the likes of me!

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Updated 07-01-2013 at 06:01 PM by Colinjb

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