Southampton’s punishing Christmas
Southampton have the most punishing Christmas schedule in the Premier League, but their players seem in great spirits judging by Jose Fonte’s Instagram.
The Saints have three games in five days, starting off with Tottenham next Wednesday as Mauricio Pochettino returns to his former club.
Then comes a home match versus West Brom a week today, before an away game at Everton, managed by former boss Ronald Koeman.
No side in the Premier League has less rest days during this period than Southampton.
Is Virgil van Dijk worth 50 million pounds?
On paper, Southampton have one of the best central defensive pairings in the Premier League.
Jose Fonte was a star for Portugal at Euro 2016 and Virgil van Dijk has established himself as one of the best centre backs in the league since joining from Celtic.
So good has van Dijk been this season, that various reports emerged last week linking the Dutch central defender with a 50 million pound move to Manchester City.
Southampton’s Secret Santa
On Saturday, Jose Fonte published two pictures from Southampton training, they were both of the first team’s Secret Santa.
This is a western Christmas tradition in which members of a group are randomly assigned a person to whom they give a gift. The identity of the gift giver is a secret not to be revealed.
Amongst football teams, this is often done in a tongue in cheek manner.
Virgil van Dijk in a Manchester City shirt
So, in Jose Fonte’s first picture, Japanese defender Maya Yoshida received a martial arts outfit.
Jose Fonte received a zimmer frame and James Ward Prowse an England shirt, since he has made so many appearances for Three Lions Under-21s.
The stand out moment comes in the second picture, which features Virgil van Dijk in a Manchester City shirt.
Clearly his Southampton team mates think it’s hilarious that he has been linked with such a big money move.
One that might be in poor taste, is that Sofiane Boufal appears to be wearing a suicide bomber vest. That could well be picked up by the mainstream media.