Loyalty has become increasingly rare in football at the elite level. The necessity for squad overhaul and top-level performance has made it an even more cutthroat business. Through thick and thin though, barring a brief loan spell, Shane Long has remained a Southampton striker. The club have officially announced that Long is set to leave the club following the expiration of his contract.
#SaintsFC can confirm Shane Long has left the club at the conclusion of his contract.
Thank you for everything, @ShaneLong7 ♥️
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 1, 2022
Experienced Southampton Striker Will Now Depart the Club
All About Shane Long’s Time Down South
Shane Long first joined the Saints back in 2014 after a brief stint with Hull City. Going back further and his professional career began with Cork City in his home country, where he made just one single appearance. He then made a major leap to Reading, running out 174 times between 2005 and 2011. West Bromwich Albion was next before he ended up at Hull. Finally, it was St Mary’s that beckoned, and he became an iconic Southampton striker.
As well as playing his part in Sadio Mane’s fastest hat-trick in Premier League history, he also holds the record for the fastest ever goal in the top flight of English Football. His most fruitful campaign as a Southampton striker came in 2015/16 when he hit double digits, scoring ten times in league action.
During his later stages as a Southampton man, in 2021, Long went on loan to Bournemouth where he scored twice in the Championship. Following that, the Irishman made 13 appearances but only three were starts. This amounted to a mere 303 minutes and one single goal.
What Next For the Outgoing Southampton Striker?
As it stands, the rumours are pointing towards one single team. Reading are the club in question, the side he of course previously represented. The Royals have seen key players such as John Swift and Josh Laurent move on for free transfers, joining West Brom and Stoke City respectively.
On the flipside, Reading have brought in Middlesbrough goalkeeper Joe Lumley as well as the well-travelled Tom Ince. Ince, the former Hull and Derby County man, was on loan at the Madejski last season and will return permanently. Ince along with the likes of Yakou Meite and Lucas Joao plus the former Southampton striker can make up a strong frontline under Tom’s dad Paul.
Long was a long-term Southampton striker and the club will be different without him. Armando Broja and Che Adams are amongst those that have superseded him on the south coast.