Get ready for the great Southampton fire sale

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There is perhaps no sight more depressing in soccer than seeing an upstart club, one that showed much promise and were so close to achieving something special, get gutted.

Vultures are circling Southampton’s St. Mary’s Stadium after talented manager Mauricio Pochettino tore up his contract and joined Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday along with his entire coaching staff.

Saints’ talented youngsters could be next to leave Southampton in the lurch.

MORE: What would Pochettino bring to Tottenham?

For many months now I’ve been all but certain Pochettino was on his way this summer after the man who appointed him, former Saints chairman Nicola Cortese, left in January. The writing has been on the wall and the uncertainty around Pochettino’s future on the South Coast has sparked rumors about many of his players also departing.

Now those rumors look very credible as Saints’ carefully cultivated squad is about to resemble a fish lying flat on a chopping board ready to be sliced open and have its insides ripped out.

Here are the five players who will likely follow Pochettino out of the door at St. Mary’s, as the biggest clubs in the Premier League are willing to pay huge sums of money to wipe Saints out.

However with no manager around to guide them, Saints’ star men may well try to force the club into selling them way below their market value in order to secure a transfer away from what is sure to be a tumultuous situation.

Adam Lallana

Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are said to be sniffing around Lallana, with Brendan Rodgers’ side said to have already tabled a $40 million bid for the England international. His silky skills across the midfield have torn apart opposition defenses all season. Has been with Saints since the age of 12, now he looks likely to severe his ties with the club. Valuation: $45 million plus.

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Will Lallana follow Pochettino out of St. Mary’s?

Luke Shaw

Manchester United and Chelsea seem to be fighting it out for one of the brightest prospects in the game. Shaw, just 18, is heading to the World Cup with England this summer after ousting veteran Ashley Cole for the Three Lions. In just his second season in the PL, Shaw’s marauding runs have been a dominant feature of Saints’ success. The next big thing. Valuation: $50 million

Morgan Schneiderlin

Saints’ French midfielder has been with the club since the dark days when they were in administration in 2009. He has grown as a player and is consistently among the PL’s leaders in tackles and interceptions. He sprays the ball around beautifully from midfield and was called into France’s 30-man squad for the World Cup this summer. Arsenal have been tracking him for quite some time. Valuation: $25 million

Dejan Lovren

Another player heading to the World Cup, Croatian defender Lovren has been a revelation since joining Saints from Lyon last summer. Tough-tackling, good on the ball and magnificent in the air, Lovren has also popped up with some big goals. Manchester United and Liverpool are said to be battling it out for his signature. Valuation: $25 million

Jay Rodriguez

If it wasn’t for a season-ending knee injury, Rodriguez would likely be on the plane to Brazil with England. He scored 15 PL goals this season as Saints’ top marksmen and Rodriguez has been attracting Liverpool and Tottenham. His incredible pace and direct style of play has won many admirers. A potent goalscorer who can play on either wing is a great skill to have. Valuation: $25 million

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.

Roma-Chelsea reports could see Dzeko, Batshuayi… and Sturridge on the move

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Here’s a wild rumor out of Italy, as Gianluca Di Marzio has UEFA Champions League Round of 16 sides Chelsea and Roma working out a big transfer.

[ MORE: PST chats with Dzeko in July ]

Again, before we lay it out, we know that both clubs would not be able to use Cup-tied players in the UCL and that gives the rumor its unrealistic bent.

Chelsea reportedly is willing to send $62 million and striker Michy Batshuayi on loan to Roma in exchange for Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeiri. Reports say Roma is holding out for another $20 million, potentially add-ons.

Dzeko isn’t producing at his otherworldly rate of last season, but is far and away i Lupi’s leading scorer and bagged a brace against Chelsea in the UCL. And Batshuayi scored in Chelsea’s first two matches of the tournament.

There is something to the rumor, at least in terms of Emerson. The London Evening Standard quotes the player’s agent as saying talks are ongoing and the move is a “dream” one for Emerson, who is behind Aleksandar Kolarov on the left back depth chart since returning from injury.

Roma would need a UCL-eligible center forward, as Czech youngster Patrik Schick has been unable to find his scoring boots since a summer move from Sampdoria. Football Italia says, sensationally, that Roma would use some of the money to pry Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool.

Maybe the Emerson move goes through, but the striker swap feels like a headscratcher for Dzeko and Chelsea.

Pardew the latest to scratch head at transfer fees

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West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew is the latest to find himself baffled at the prices on the transfer market.

To be fair to the Englishman, 56, it doesn’t sound like he’s raving in ‘old man yelling at the sky’ fashion. Rather he thinks the numbers are hard for fans to gauge and perhaps it’s causing a disconnect.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

And for him, at least, it’s a challenge to sort out whether the prices he’s being quoted are reasonable relative to the market. That makes sense, considering that as Newcastle boss in 2012 he sold Fraser Forster to Celtic for about $3 million and PSG bought Yohan Cabaye — then 28 — from him for $26 million.

Both fees would be a little different right now, we think (from the BBC).

“It’s difficult with the prices now to gauge what’s good value,” Pardew said. “We live in a hyper-inflated world because of the TV money received by the football clubs. Therefore, transfers and wages are going way out of kilter with real life. I think we’re all losing the plot with the figures. It’s just becoming, ‘Oh okay,’ and not even reacting to things any more.”

Now, to play devil’s advocate, if Pardew is actually just old man yelling at the sky, he’d better get out of the manager’s box. The fees aren’t changing for top clubs, which is why Jonny Evans is at risk from a Man City bid but not Newcastle United or Crystal Palace. And the TV money he talks about is going to allow clubs like WBA to hold onto players by offering better wages if they choose that route.

But it’s a fair sentiment regarding how to gauge these numbers. While it’s usually a bit laughable when fans and writers estimate whether clubs have paid too much or sold for too little, managers and administrators risk looking foolish if they agree too low or too high a fee relative to other teams.