For the first time since the days of Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino, there is some genuine pre-season optimism at St Mary’s.
This is almost solely down to the mid-season arrival of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who rejuvenated a side that looked doomed under Mark Hughes.
Southampton head into the new season with a remarkably young side, fielding several starters who broke out last season. Therefore, expect some healthy ratings boost.
One big question mark is which formation he’ll use, whether it be a classic 4-3-3 or 5-2-3. As he’s used three centre-backs more often than not in pre-season, that seems more likely, although a very solid set of options at centre-mid may convince the German manager otherwise.
RealSport looks at how Southampton could rate and line-up on FIFA 20.
Angus Gunn (OVR 71 – 76)
In Angus Gunn, Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster, Southampton have perhaps too many options in goal. Gunn and McCarthy are the two most likely to start; Forster, at this point, is an unnecessary drain on the wage bill. You can expect Gunn to keep the starting spot he took from McCarthy in the second half of the season. He’s shown himself to be a solid keeper with vast potential.
Jan Valery (OVR 61 – 74)
Position: RB, RWB
Valery was Southampton’s breakout star of last season – and is the latest in a long line of excellent Southampton academy products. For a 20-year-old defender, he already has great awareness and has chipped in with a couple of goals, including a cracker against Manchester United. He should receive a massive boost after a fine debut year.
Janik Bednarek (OVR 71 – 75)
Jan Bednarek was a beneficiary of Hasenhuttl’s arrival, becoming a regular feature in the line-up. Like Gunn, he has good potential and could become a mainstay of the defence for years to come. For now, the biggest concern for Saints fans is that he’s still inexperienced, and it remains to be seen how he’ll fare during his first full season.
Maya Yoshida (OVR 75 – 76)
Yoshida brings some much-needed experience to this side. After James Ward-Prowse, he’s their second-longest serving player – his age of 30 seeming older than it is considering the players around him. He’s a solid if unspectacular defender and will continue to be a reliable option for Southampton next season.
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Jannik Vestergaard (OVR 80 – 78)
Vestergaard was bought last season to shore up the defence, but suffered a shaky start at St Mary’s before growing into the second half of the campaign. Still, his FIFA 19 rating of 80 is generous and should drop two or three points.
Ryan Bertrand (OVR 79 – 79)
Position: LB, LWB
Bertrand’s season was disrupted by injuries last year, and when fit, was relatively quiet. He’s still a very good player for Southampton and his starting spot should be under no threat. His rating stays at 79.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (OVR 76 – 78)
Position: CM, CDM
Hojbjerg is one of Southampton’s best players and has done a good job leading the side. He’s improved the attacking side of his game, scoring the occasional goal and making good runs forward. He’ll be the key to Southampton’s midfield next term. He gets a two-point boost.
James Ward-Prowse (OVR 76 – 79)
Position: RM, CM
Last season it felt as if Ward-Prowse was finally coming of age. He’s always been a fairly luxurious player and a fantastic at set-piece taker. However, he’s now established himself as a vital cog in the team. He can fill in both centrally and out wide and has added a layer of steel to his game. His rating is boosted to 79.
Nathan Redmond (OVR 75 – 80)
Position: RM, LM, ST
Redmond deservedly won Southampton Player of the Season last year, enjoying the best season of his career. He switched to a central role, stretching opposition defences and at times, carrying the team. The arrival of Che Adams will allow him to switch back to his natural position on the right. He’ll be Southampton highest rated player on FIFA 20, on 79 or 80.
Danny Ings (OVR 76 – 78)
If Southampton keep Danny Ings fit, the £20 million they spent to make his move permanent will be a very good piece of business. At the beginning of last season, he showed how clinical he can be, even in a struggling team. He scored 7 in the Premier League last season, but if he can complete a full campaign, he’ll easily hit double figures this year.
Che Adams (OVR 71 – 77)
It’s often difficult to predict how a player will adjust to the Premier League having come up from the second division, but Che Adams seems like a very good bet. Alongside promoted strikers Teemu Pukki and Billy Sharp, he was nominated for Championship Player of the Year, netting 24 times in the league. He’ll foil Ings well, making stretching runs while Ings drops deep. He’s one to watch this year.
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On the bench
Alex McCarthy (OVR 77 – 77) will deputise for Gunn in goal.
In defence, Cedric Soares (OVR 77 – 76) has returned from an unsuccessful loan spell at Inter Milan, while Jack Stephens (OVR 74 – 72) provides cover in the centre.
Hasenhuttl has some great options in midfield – if Mario Lemina (OVR 78 – 78) can make a successful recovery from an injury-hit season, he’s a first-team player. Oriol Romeu (OVR 78 – 78) should also see plenty of minutes. Sofiane Boufal (OVR 77 – 77), once their record signing, has also been re-integrated into the squad.
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In attack, Stuart Armstrong (OVR 75 – 76) will look to build on a solid first season in England – he should feature as an attacking midfielder or winger. Keep an eye on new signing Moussa Djenepo (OVR 67 – 75), who will provide some spark from the wing. Shane Long (OVR 76 – 76) is also still at the club and will deputise for Ings.
Southampton predicted lineup
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