Southampton pay tribute as Shane Long leaves the club after eight years
Long joined the club back in 2014.
Southampton have released Shane Long after eight seasons with the Premier League club. The Republic of Ireland striker, who made 245 appearances for the Saints, leaves the club following the expiration of his contract.
Southampton fans paid tribute to Long on social media after his exit was announced, while the club praised his 'professionalism' in a statement.
Long has been linked with a return to Reading, his former club, following his departure from St Mary's.
Shane Long leaves Southampton after eight years.
"Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to express their gratitude to Shane for his incredible dedication and service throughout his time at St Mary’s, and we wish him well for the future," the club said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.
"Whilst his playing time was reduced in recent years, he remained an influential figure in the dressing room and a role model in professionalism for many young players graduating from the Academy, as well as those joining Saints from other clubs."
Long, 35, joined the club from Hull City in 2014 for a transfer fee in the region of £12m.
The Tipperary-native scored 37 goals in 245 games for Southampton and recorded his most prolific season in the 2015/16 campaign when he netted 13 goals in 34 games.
Long created Premier League history during his spell with the club. In April 2019, the Ireland forward scored the division's fasted-ever goal when he netted after 7.69 seconds in a game against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Long also scored against Liverpool at Anfield to seal Southampton's place in the 2017 League Cup final. His final goal for the Saints came in a win against Everton back in February.
When news of his exit was announced, the club's fans paid tribute to the striker.
Will always love him for this moment at Anfield. Fractions of a second later we were properly losing our minds in the Anfield road end!! Happy Days. Thanks for the memories @ShaneLong7 pic.twitter.com/xLPMervMKm
— Salvatore Colella (@big_salv) July 1, 2022
Shane Long linked with a return to Reading
Long is now a free agent and has been linked with a return to Reading, his former club. According to The Athletic, Long's 'most likely' next move is signing for the Championship side ahead of the new season.
The Irish striker scored 54 goals in 203 games for the Royals before leaving to join West Bromwich Albion in 2011.