Shane Long didn't start this season as first choice for Ronald Koeman but he has certainly finished it as such.
In late November, Long was given a chance by Koeman. He grasped it with both hands.
Long has ten Premier League goals this season, making him Southampton's joint top scorer in the league along with Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle. The Tipp man has 12 goals in total for his club this season.
Initially viewed as overpriced by Southampton fans when he joined in August, 2014 for £12 million, he is now viewed as a bargain.
Koeman has spoken throughout the season of Long's contribution and the improvements he has seen in the player, particularly regarding his movement.
Long has been recognised for his breakthrough season by fans of the club.
In a poll held by local Southampton paper the Southern Daily Echo, the 29-year-old was voted Player of the Season. He garnered 44% of the vote beating centre-back Virgil van Dijk who received 37% of votes.
— SaintsFC: Daily Echo (@dailyechosaints) May 14, 2016
Daily Echo readers have been open with their praise of the striker.
The way he terrorises defences is awesome and none more so than Arsenal's defence on Boxing Day...undoubtedly his best performance of the season and one that really confirmed his place in everyone's mind as a great striker!
Totally deserves this award...
Tony in Liberia:
Shane Long, thought by virtually every saints fan to be overpriced and undertalented when he arrived (let's admit it, people) has not only proved himself a bargain, but also offers the ultimate proof that, compared to saints new recruitment team (i.e. not the ones who bought that tool osvaldo, who's career has just tanked again I see) know far more about football, and ho we to b uild an awesome red & white machine, than we every will!
Well done Shane; I actually voted for Virgil, but you m a de me think long & hard about it!
Now, enjoythe Euros, dont get injured, & then spend the summer on shooting practice, & we will love you even more :-)
Well done Shane. Very well deserved. A lot of people were sceptical when he was signed from West Brom, but I rated him very highly and suggested signing him way back when he was at Hull City. Opposition defences hate playing against players like him. Now give him an improved contract offer and tie him down along with the other 3 players who've re-signed in the last 7 days.
Hopefully his brilliant form in the second half of the season continues this summer.
Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE