Southamp­ton could ben­e­fit from their manager’s con­tact list as they look to improve their squad this sum­mer.

Whilst Rus­sell Mar­tin is rel­a­tive­ly new to man­age­ment, hav­ing tak­en his first job in 2019, he has over­seen some real tal­ents in his time in charge of both MK Dons and Swansea City before tak­ing over as Southamp­ton boss in the sum­mer.

With that in mind, it may be a good idea for the club to use their manager’s knowl­edge of the play­ers he has pre­vi­ous­ly worked with to iden­ti­fy pos­si­ble tar­gets for the next trans­fer win­dow, par­tic­u­lar­ly as Mar­tin has a very par­tic­u­lar style of play that often takes time for play­ers to adapt to.

Southamp­ton cur­rent­ly find them­selves fourth in the Cham­pi­onship table, with a game in hand on Leices­ter City and two on both league lead­ers Leeds Unit­ed and Ipswich Town. With ten games left for Martin’s side, the divi­sion they will be play­ing in next sea­son is still very much up in the air and will have a huge impact on their sum­mer busi­ness.

Per­haps unsur­pris­ing­ly giv­en he fol­lowed Mar­tin to Southamp­ton, Ryan Man­ning is the play­er who has made the most appear­ances under Mar­tin in his man­age­r­i­al career to date with 121. How­ev­er, here are three more play­ers who Mar­tin has man­aged pre­vi­ous­ly that Southamp­ton should con­sid­er sign­ing ahead of the next cam­paign.

Russell Martin should target Morgan Whittaker reunion

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Mor­gan Whit­tak­er made 24 appear­ances under Mar­tin whilst the pair were at Swansea, scor­ing four goals in the process.

Whittaker’s time at the South Wales club was short-lived, though, with the winger mov­ing to Ply­mouth Argyle per­ma­nent­ly last sum­mer hav­ing impressed in the first half of the club’s pro­mo­tion win­ning sea­son before being recalled. Whilst in charge of Swansea, Mar­tin was actu­al­ly respon­si­ble for allow­ing Whit­tak­er to leave on loan twice; ini­tial­ly to Lin­coln City in Jan­u­ary 2022 before Ply­mouth that sum­mer.

Giv­en Whit­tak­er was just 20 when Mar­tin sent him to Lin­coln, it is dif­fi­cult to argue that the cur­rent Southamp­ton man­ag­er was not right to send the young­ster to a low­er league club to devel­op – par­tic­u­lar­ly when you con­sid­er the Swans had Joel Piroe lead­ing the line.

Mow 23, Whit­tak­er has tak­en the Cham­pi­onship by storm with 18 goals and sev­en assists in the league for a Ply­mouth side strug­gling at the wrong end of the table. Even more impres­sive is that he has done this from a right wing posi­tion, even if this role does allow him the free­dom to cut in and shoot with his cul­tured left foot.

Remark­ably giv­en he only signed for Ply­mouth in the sum­mer for £1 mil­lion, Whit­tak­er was the sub­ject of a Jan­u­ary bid from Ital­ian giants Lazio. Ply­mouth reject­ed the bid, but Southamp­ton may be able to cap­i­talise in the sum­mer to try and com­plete a deal for a real tal­ent in a posi­tion that is cur­rent­ly occu­pied by loa­nee David Brooks, but up for grabs ahead of next sea­son.

Could Martin revisit failed summer transfer for Nathan Wood?

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Southamp­ton failed in a bid to sign young cen­tral defend­er Nathan Wood from Swansea last sum­mer, with the Saints’ £10 mil­lion bid not meet­ing Swansea’s £12 mil­lion val­u­a­tion.

If the Saints were to bring Wood to St Mary’s, it would be the sec­ond time Mar­tin has signed the 21-year-old hav­ing tak­en the play­er to Swansea from Mid­dles­bor­ough in sum­mer 2022. The Eng­land under-21 inter­na­tion­al played 43 times in his sin­gle sea­son under Mar­tin and was labelled a ‘real leader’ by the cur­rent Southamp­ton man­ag­er who also added that Wood could go to the ‘very top’.

Southamp­ton cur­rent­ly have the senior cen­tral defen­sive duo of Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek at the club, with 22-year-old Tay­lor Har­wood-Bel­lis also a real stand­out per­former this sea­son. How­ev­er, Har­wood-Bel­lis’ future hinges almost entire­ly on pro­mo­tion, with Southamp­ton hav­ing a £20 mil­lion oblig­a­tion to buy for the young­ster should they return to the Pre­mier League. If Martin’s side fall short of that tar­get, it is dif­fi­cult to envis­age a sce­nario where the under-21 Euros win­ner returns to the Cham­pi­onship such has been the con­sis­ten­cy of his per­for­mances.

Even if Southamp­ton are pro­mot­ed and sign Har­wood-Bel­lis, three cen­tral defend­ers is not enough and Wood would like­ly be a wel­come addi­tion, espe­cial­ly giv­en his abil­i­ty on the ball and obvi­ous famil­iar­i­ty with what Mar­tin expects from his cen­tre-backs both with and with­out the ball.

Could Southampton pursue Celtic’s Matt O’Riley?

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The final play­er Mar­tin should con­sid­er rec­om­mend­ing to the Southamp­ton hier­ar­chy is Matt O’Riley.

O’Riley played under Mar­tin in his first role at MK Dons and made the jump from the then League One side to Scot­tish giants Celtic effort­less­ly. Since leav­ing Dons in Jan­u­ary 2022, O’Riley has played 111 games for the Old Firm club, scor­ing 19 goals and reg­is­ter­ing 31 assists in that time.

O’Riley is a Den­mark inter­na­tion­al, despite play­ing for Eng­land up until the under-21 age group, and is a cen­tre mid­field­er who pos­sess­es bun­dles of cre­ativ­i­ty along­side his eye for goal. With the influ­en­tial Stu­art Arm­strong now 31, Car­los Alcaraz‘ future look­ing as though it may lie else­where and ques­tion marks over Will Smallbone‘s abil­i­ty to make the step up should Southamp­ton be pro­mot­ed, explor­ing a deal for O’Riley would make sense.

Speak­ing after O’Riley’s Den­mark debut in Novem­ber 2023, Mar­tin said: “I could see right away that Matt was a bril­liant foot­baller, he is an absolute­ly out­stand­ing tech­ni­cian. Let me tell you some­thing about Matt: his men­tal­i­ty was straight out of the top draw­er. At MK Dons he was every manager’s dream.

“He was the con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­al in his prepa­ra­tion. He was real­ly into that and the recov­ery side of the game. He was a real stu­dent of foot­ball and was gen­uine­ly inter­est­ed in how he could take his game to the next lev­el and be the best he could be.

“He is phys­i­cal­ly a beast too. I said when he first signed for Celtic that he would be one of the best play­ers in the Scot­tish Pre­mier­ship and I am delight­ed for him that he has proven that state­ment to be cor­rect”.

With such high praise, it would come as no sur­prise to see Martin’s side test the waters with a bid in the sum­mer. Any deal would like­ly see Celtic turn a huge prof­it on a play­er they signed for around £1.5 mil­lion in ear­ly 2022, espe­cial­ly as rumours sug­gest the Scot­tish club val­ued O’Riley at clos­er to the £25 mil­lion mark in Jan­u­ary.

With a hefty fee like­ly, this is a deal that would be con­tin­gent on Southamp­ton being a Pre­mier League club next sea­son.

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