Southampton have agreed a season long loan deal for Fulham star Maarten Stekelenburg and announced it on their official website.
The 32-year-old is their fourth signing after bringing in striker Juanmi from Malaga and right-back Cedric Soares from Sporting Lisbon earlier in the summer. After the wild success of their signings last season it will be interesting to see if this group are able to do take to the Premier League as well as Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, Toby Alderweireld, and Fraser Forster.
It is the broken kneecap suffered by the latter of those in March that likely explains why Stekelenburg has been brought to St. Mary’s. With the former Celtic ace expected to return to fitness at some point over the next season, the Netherlands international will be able to cover for him while he recovers without hanging around and taking up a place in the squad afterwards.
The goalkeeper has seen his career drop off after being seen as one of the best stoppers in Europe at one point. He was a regular for Ajax before moving to AS Roma in 2011. However, a mix of injury and form saw him lose his position in the Serie A team before he went to Fulham in 2013 and was relegated with them from the Premier League.
It was during those years in Italy that Stekelenburg lost his place in the Holland squad after 54 caps for his country. Most recently the ‘keeper was on loan at AS Monaco, playing just four times for the principality based club.
The player said of his latest transfer: “I’m very pleased that I’ve joined. It’s a big, nice club that will play European football – and I can play. Last year I didn’t play a lot, so it’s an opportunity for me. I’m grateful.
“The last two years weren’t the best of my career. As they say in England: the best is yet to come.”
Saints’ executive director of football Les Reed added: “Maarten is a goalkeeper with a wealth of top-level experience who will prove to be an important addition to the squad at this early stage of pre-season. While Fraser Forster’s rehabilitation is progressing well, adding Maarten to our squad alongside Kelvin Davis and Paulo Gazzaniga will give us strength in depth for what will be a busy season.
“Maarten enjoyed tremendous success in Holland with Ajax and on the international stage, playing in the 2010 World Cup final. His experience will be invaluable to us, especially with the arrival of European football. There was strong competition for Maarten’s services, so we are very pleased he has committed to our cause.”