Southampton are well-known for churning out talent from their academy setup and selling them on for huge profits in the future.
James Ward-Prowse is the most recent of those to have demonstrated the quality being produced from the Saints’ academy having followed in the footsteps of the likes of Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott and five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Gareth Bale.
While the relentless production of talent coming from their academy is impressive – as emphasised this season through 17-year-old Samuel Amo-Ameyaw being rewarded with a chance in the first team – Southampton have also become renowned for signing young players at comparatively small fees and nurturing their development before selling at a significant profit.
The most blatant example of that fact was their £13m acquisition of Virgil van Dijk from Celtic in 2015 with the Dutchman quickly rising to prominence as one of the best defenders in the league, as the Saints pocketed a hefty £75m from Liverpool two and a half years later.
In 2022, Ralph Hasenhuttl unearthed a gem from Manchester City as Romeo Lavia joined the club for £10.5m and although the South Coast club were relegated from the Premier League, Lavia’s impressive performances earned him a £58m move to Chelsea this summer, making them a cool £48m on their investment.
Southampton are experts when it comes to signing young players for a cheap and turning a huge profit, but have buckled under the pressure of spending big money on more experienced talents, wasting millions on Dani Osvaldo, who demonstrated that the Saints haven’t always been smart with their business.
How much did Southampton pay for Dani Osvaldo?
During Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure at the club, the Argentine was in desperate need of a striker to help them become more ruthless in front of goal and after managing him at Espanyol, where he chalked up 20 goals in 45 appearances, Pochettino decided to break the bank to lure Osvaldo to the Premier League.
Despite his impressive rate of scoring, Roma’s coach at the time, Rudi Garcia, questioned Osvaldo’s attitude during a friendly with Turkish side Bursaspor in 2013, stating that the 27-year-old’s behaviour would cause serious problems unless he changed his attitude.
He said: “He is a great striker, but his personality is a serious issue.
“[For instance], in my opinion, he shouldn’t have reacted to the fans’ jeers, although I do understand it’s hard not to do when you’re being insulted.”
In that one moment, warning signs were thrown towards Southampton, but they chose to ignore them. Indeed, Pochettino thought his attitude wouldn’t get in the way of his performances, and it turned out he was wrong.
What happened to Dani Osvaldo next?
As a club record signing, a lot is expected, especially as a striker. Supporters were expecting Osvaldo to become their next heroic goalscorer, following in the footsteps of Rickie Lambert, but how his Southampton career unravelled instead left supporters pulling their hair out.
In 13 appearances for the club in the 2013/14 campaign, Osvaldo’s only moment of brilliance came against Manchester City, as his superbly curled effort helped the Saints to a point against the eventual champions.
“From now on I can show how much I can do, and how well I can perform,” the Italian said, after scoring his third – and last – Southampton goal.
Although he offered words of encouragement to supporters, he failed to kick on from there, headbutting Jose Fonte in training, an incident that ultimately ended his career in England.
Osvaldo spent just 166 days at the club before he was shipped out of the club to Juventus on loan, failing to impress at the Old Lady before Southampton released him in 2015 after he’d bled the club dry of £25m, including fees and wages, across two years.
After retiring at 30-years-old in 2016, the Italian outlined his hatred towards football in an interview with Fox Sports, saying: “Football was not happy, it is a world full of ****.” You can imagine the ending of that.
As far as record signings go, Osvaldo will go down as one of the worst in Premier League history.