Although there has been a lack of real big-name transfers in the Premier League's off-season so far, one team going about their business nicely is Southampton. The St Mary's outfit were criticised following the dismissal of Nigel Adkins last season, but under Mauricio Pochettino seem to have prospered. A relatively comfortable finish of 14th place at the first time of asking in the Premier League must be deemed as a success, and the club have taken a number of positive measures since the end of last season to ensure they are not fighting relegation next term.
Last summer the signing of the highly rated Gaston Ramirez raised a few eyebrows - this time round Southampton have been going about their business quietly, but effectively. The club's fans will be glad to see that money is being made available for transfers and duly spent by Pochettino. The £20 million+ spent on Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren so far has only been surpassed by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, in what is a statement of ambition by the south coast club.
The two players they have brought in do not have the same profile as Ramirez per se, but have the ability to be stars in the Premier League. Wanyama is a player that has been in Premier League clubs' gaze for quite some time, with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal being linked with the box-to-box man during his tenure with Celtic.
Wanyama was an instant hit in Scotland and played a major role in helping Celtic to back-to-back SPL titles in his time north of the border. The 22-year-old's endless running, ability to win the ball back from opponents and energy were key aspects of his time at Celtic Park, and it is little wonder that he has moved to the Premier League. His drive and seemingly tireless engine saw him get forward and amongst the goals for the Hoops, netting 10 times in the SPL in two years. He also scored the opener in Celtic's memorable 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League.
Wanyama' was granted the SPL Young Player of the Year award for 2012-13, and there are many who feel the African midfielder was good value for the senior accolade. It is clear that the Kenyan has outgrown Scottish football, however for Southampton to be committed to land the star ahead of potentially bigger clubs, paying £12.5 million, must be seen as a major coup.
Louvren's acquisition flew slightly under the radar, but is equally as impressive and significant as that of Wanyama. The Croatia international central defender has been signed from Lyon for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in excess of £8 million. His purchase is an important one as Pochettino looks to steady a rearguard that was at times vulnerable last season, and the 24-year-old has all the attributes to play a major part in doing so.
The centre-half brings a wealth of experience with him, and despite still only being 24, has played almost 20 times for his country and represented Lyon in European competition. The no-nonsense defender has strength in abundance, is good in the air and quick across the ground. Once settled into life at St Mary's, Louvren could well play a commanding and dominant role in the side.
The most recent piece of positive news is that youth-team graduate and England under-17 star Luke Shaw has extended his contract with the club. A new five-year deal will hopefully act as a deterrent to the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham, who have been monitoring the prospect over the last 12 months.
All-in-all, things are rosy at Southampton and the club's fans have every reason to believe their side can avoid second-season syndrome and prosper next term. With another clever addition or two, the side may even be looking at a top-half finish in 2013-14.