Irish striker Shane Long pens new four-year deal at Saints


London (AFP) – Republic of Ireland international striker Shane Long became the latest player to pledge his future to English Premier League side Southampton on Thursday, signing a new four-year contract.

The 29-year-old, part of the Ireland side that lost 2-1 to eventual finalists France in the last 16 at Euro 2016, said he was more than happy to be staying on at the club who finished a best ever sixth in the table last term.

“I’m delighted. I’m excited to be part of what could be a big future in the next four years for this club,” Long told saintsfc.co.uk.

“It’s a real family feel, and I feel like I’m a big part of that and I feel like I’m playing my best football here as well,” added Long, who has scored 21 times in 73 appearances since joining from Hull in 2014.

Long is the latest player to place his faith in the south-coast club.

This despite manager Ronald Koeman leaving for Everton and the departure of star names with the likes of Kenyan midfield enforcer Victor Wanyama, Italian striker Graziano Pelle and Senegalese forward Sadio Mane all moving away.

However, England defender Ryan Bertrand, England goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk, England Under-21 skipper James Ward-Prowse and Northern Irish veteran Steven Davis have all signed new contracts at St Mary’s.

The decision by Long — scorer of 16 goals in 67 appearances for his country — to agree a new contract was warmly welcomed by Saints executive director Les Reed.

“Shane has been an important asset to the team ever since his arrival at the club in 2014 and he was an influential part of our record-breaking Premier League campaign last season,” he said.

“Shane is the latest in a significant number of first-team players to have signed new contracts with the club in recent weeks and months, indicating the players’ belief that there is more to come, while further strengthening the core of our squad as we move into what promises to be another memorable campaign.”

Saints have not been dormant in the transfer market themselves — aside from replacing Koeman with experienced Frenchman Claude Puel — signing Nathan Redmond from relegated Norwich and highly-rated Danish international Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich as they prepare for not only the Premier League campaign but also the Europa League.

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