Semmens explains club cannot sign 'players who are better at 25' but how Saints can reach Europe

·3-min read
Saints CEO Martin Semmens and Sport Republic's lead investor Dragan Solak (Pic: Stuart Martin)
Saints CEO Martin Semmens and Sport Republic's lead investor Dragan Solak (Pic: Stuart Martin)

SAINTS CEO Martin Semmens explained the club’s youthful transfer policy, saying “we can’t buy players that are better who are 25”, but laid out the plan to progression.

The St Mary’s side, in their first full season with new owners Sport Republic at the helm, have made six additions already in the summer transfer window.

Of those, only Joe Aribo, 26, and Mateusz Lis, 25, exceed 20-years-old – with Romeo Lavia, just 18, the youngest of the bunch.

Semmens explains, during BBC Radio Solent’s Fans’ Forum held at the stadium, the opportunity to get someone with the experience of Aribo for good value is rare.

“What we need to get better is better quality on the pitch, and we have to be realistic, we can’t buy players who are better who are 25. It happens very rarely,” he said.

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Daily Echo:

“It happened with Joe Aribo where to do with contractual situations we were able to get a player for reasonable value.

“What we need to do is get the best players in the world in the building and they’re going to have to be slightly younger.

“What we do here is try to find the best young players in the world, which we’re pretty good at, Romeo, Gavin (Bazunu) are good examples.

“Give them the best environment to learn, select a manager who will actually play them and believe in them, and then show them they can play in the Premier League.”

Young players, often getting their first steps in England’s top-flight, are more likely to be prone to mistakes and going on runs of form as they come to terms with their newfound status.

However, Semmens insisted this policy does not limit Saints to their height of ambition just being to remain in the Premier League season on season, although that is an achievement in itself.

“The ambition of the club is to continue to build in our way and to have an identity of who we are,” he continued.

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Daily Echo:

“And we are very proud and very appreciative and respectful of staying in the greatest sporting league in the world.

“But we don't ever talk about staying in the league and just avoiding relegation, we talk about trying to push into the top 10. So that's the ambition of the club.”

Semmens added: “And I think our view is if we can stay in that group, 11th, 12th, eighth, ninth - whatever it might be.

“Then, when you get it right, and when you make these signings and Ralph does a great job and it all goes our way - then you'll get back into European football.

"We don't talk about staying in the league, we have a very clear strategy to try and push and get in the top 10 of the league.

"I think the thing that's changed since I first got here is the league is much more competitive. So at that point, we were above Liverpool, we were beating Tottenham regularly, it has got harder financially.

"It does not mean that we don't have the drive and ambition to win the league every year. Of course we do. I think realistically it's going to get harder."

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