Southampton sign Eljero Elia on loan from Werder Bremen
Eljero Elia is set to become a Saint, as the winger who’s gone out of favor at Werder Bremen will be moving to England and Southampton on loan in January.
Southampton have fallen back to earth after a red-hot start in the Premier League, and the club is trying to find ways to reclaim their early form. Part of that solution lies in replacing players out with long-term injuries, which again includes ailing forward Jay Rodriguez, who’s going to be out until at least February after suffering a setback in his recovery from the ACL tear he sustained late last season.
With that need in mind, Southampton have again turned to the market of undervalued talents, hoping they can strike gold again with former Netherlands international Eljero Elia, who has been plying his trade in Germany with Werder Bremen. The Dutch winger will arrive on loan next week, staying with Southampton for the rest of the season with an option to arrange a permanent transfer in the summer.
Elia was very good for Bremen last season, but has been out of favor under new manager Viktor Skripnik took over the relegation-threatened side, and has only played 58 minutes of football in two appearances since the Ukrainian manager arrived in late October. Injuries to key players and general poor form have left Werder with just 17 points after 17 matches in the Bundesliga, leaving them in 16th place and just two points clear of the bottom of the table. Skripnik’s preferences and changes to the tactics that Werder deploys has left Elia with precious little room in the squad, so a move away for him is in everyone’s best interest.
The Dutch attacker brings pace and trickery to the left wing of Southampton’s formation, a place that’s occasionally been lacking it for them this season. The 27-year-old is also hoping to re-establish himself as an option for the Netherlands national team, as it’s been two years since he featured for them. That’s partly the fault of instability with Elia’s career as this is his fifth transfer in seven years. It once looked like he would be one of Holland’s brighter young attacking talents, but a move to Juventus stalled his progress significantly at a key time, playing just five times over the course of his one year in Italy after two very successful seasons in Holland with FC Twente.
Southampton and Dutch manager Ronald Koeman will be hoping to get Elia back in the form that put him on the map as a younger player and see him help push the club back up the table. Whether or not he’ll be able to do that is up for some debate, as the greater pace, strength, and technical skill of the EPL means that he won’t have the same edge in those departments that he used to his advantage early in his career. Still, at the absolute worst, this is a good depth move for Southampton, and they need depth more than almost any other side in England right now.