Southampton Should Cash In on Graziano Pelle

The time is right to sell Pelle before it's too latePhoto Credit: Wouter Engler via Wikimedia Commons
The time is right to sell Pelle before it's too latePhoto Credit: Wouter Engler via Wikimedia Commons /

Italian striker Graziano Pelle has been an excellent addition to Southampton. His aerial prowess in front of goal has proved to be a constant threat for Ronald Koeman’s side to the tune of six goals on the young season. On the other hand, the downside to the goal-scoring striker is pretty steep. He is already 31-years old and his contract will be up in 18 months. That means it’s time for Southampton to make the shrewd business move and cash in on Pelle before it’s too late.

The debate of whether or not Southampton should hold on to Pelle essentially boils down to one thing. If you believe that the Saints can achieve Champions League qualification with Pelle as their front man this season then you believe Southampton should hang on to him at all costs. If, on the other hand, you see Europa League qualification as their ceiling, you have to understand that selling Pelle now is the club’s best option.

As you might have guessed in the headline, I fall into the second group. I think Southampton is a quality side. They are dangerous on any given day and can beat anyone in the Premier League. I do not, however, believe they are destined for the top four this season with or without Pelle at the helm. They just don’t have quite enough quality to mount that charge.

Southampton’s ownership has a solid track record of cashing out on its prized players at the right time. It’s not the most popular philosophy with their fans, but it’s always the right decision for the club on the whole. The Graziano Pelle situation will test their calculating philosophy once again.

Pelle only has 18 months left on his current deal and is a significant flight risk for Southampton. He boldly asserted his desire to return to Serie A in a press conference this week and waxed eloquently on how Italy is the most beautiful nation on the planet. None of his comments in that press conference screamed “I want to sign a new contract at Southampton.” He sounded much like a man who’d already decided to search for greener pastures.

Given those statements it’s easy to wonder if Pelle is going to be focused on Southampton for the rest of his contracted time on the south coast. I’d argue that his comments make it abundantly clear that he will not be “all in” for Ronald Koeman and that’s exactly what his manager will need. His articulated lack of affection for Southampton should make him even easier for the club to sell.

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Even if he is fully focused on Southampton at the moment, it would still be time to sell him. 31 years old is on the old side for a Premier League striker these days. The English media is ready to send Wayne Rooney to a nursing home at just 30. Pelle will not be able to keep up his current level of form for much longer. Southampton would be lucky to get high quality play from their striker through the length of the contract. It’s more likely they’d see some slippage well before the end of next season.

Given his predicted decline in ability, Southampton must act now to sell while his stock is at his highest. If the rumors of Juventus interest are true, they should drive a hard bargain with the Italian giants but should ultimately be willing to make a deal. Pelle isn’t the difference between Champions League and Europa League for the Saints so they must turn a profit on the striker. January may be the last window where that opportunity presents itself in earnest.

Southampton should profit on the sale of Pelle and reinvest their funds the way they always do. They can turn his good run of form into several quality prospects that will strengthen them for years to come. Southampton fans are right to want this perpetual selling to stop one day, but now isn’t the right time. They must hold on to their star when it’s the right star. Just not when it’s a 31-year-old striker who wants to go home to Italy. Graziano Pelle should be sold while his stock remains high to the highest bidder. If Southampton waits too long, they may not recoup the funds they so fervently desire.