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.

source: Getty Images
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

Gareth Barry’s historic longevity: Incredible stats, top goals

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Gareth Barry is expected to make Premier League history on Monday.

If Barry, 36, appears (he is expected to start) for West Bromwich Albion in their game against Arsenal (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Emirates Stadium he will make his 633rd appearance in the PL, breaking Ryan Giggs‘ record.

After making his PL debut in the 1997-98 campaign for Aston Villa, Barry has gone on to play for Manchester City, Everton and now West Brom who he signed for in the summer.

In a recent interview the left-footer said he could go on playing until the age of 40 but he only has a contract through the end of this season at the Hawthorns after turning down a new two-year deal at Everton.

The midfielder, a former England international, won an FA Cup and a Premier League title while at Man City and has played as a left back, center back and in central midfield. Steady, composed and dependable, Barry is the kind of seasoned pro who are worth their weight in gold.

In the video above you can watch Barry’s top five goals in the Premier League, while below are some incredible stats from his near 20-year career in England’s top-flight.

  • Most starts in Premier League history: 600
  • Most minutes played: 52,871
  • Most yellow cards: 119
  • Ranked 10th all-time in wins with 261
  • 17 current PL players were not born when Barry made his Premier League debut on May 3, 1998

Trio of USWNT players stay in locker room for national anthem

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USWNT players Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Becky Sauerbrunn were among players from both the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City who did not appear for the national anthem at a NWSL game on Sunday.

Rapinoe was the first USWNT player to kneel during the national anthem as she joined the protests led by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick calling for racial equality and against police brutality.

With several NFL teams on Sunday taking a knee during the anthem and the Pitstburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks staying in the locker room during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, U.S. President Donald Trump has responded angrily to sports teams who decided to kneel during the national anthem.

Here’s more info from Sounder At Heart on SB Nation:

This time Megan Rapinoe is not alone. Several players from both teams joined her, staying in the locker room during the flag and anthem ceremony.

Elli Reed, Megan Rapinoe, Madalyn Schiffel, Lauren Barnes and Diana Matheson from the Reign did not take the field. Former Sounders/Reign player Sydney Leroux was among the FCKC starters who were not out for the ceremonies. Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Desiree Scott round out that group. Sauerbrunn is currently the United States captain. Leroux and Rapinoe are both regulars with the USWNT.

With U.S. Soccer bringing in a new bylaw earlier this year which states players must stand for the national anthem, could we see male and female U.S. stars following this option by not going out onto the pitch for the national anthem in upcoming international games?

All eyes will be on USWNT captain Sauerbrunn, plus midfielder Rapinoe and Leroux, during the anthem when Jill Ellis’ side play against South Korea on Oct. 19 and Oct. 22.

The actions of Bruce Arena’s USMNT side will also be heavily scrutinized ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 6 and Oct. 10 respectively.

Valencia coach Marcelino pulls muscle celebrating winner

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MADRID (AP) It was a bittersweet celebration for Valencia coach Marcelino after his team’s winning goal against Real Sociedad in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Marcelino pulled a thigh muscle in his left leg while celebrating Simone Zaza‘s 85th-minute winner at Anoeta Stadium.

Marcelino put his hand on the back of his leg and immediately started limping, visibly in pain.

Television images later showed him wincing in pain on the bench, and he limped every time he went out to the coach’s area to give instructions to his players.

“I’m older, I need to control myself in certain situations,” the 52-year-old Marcelino said, with a smile. “When it’s the coach getting injured, it’s not a problem.”

Valencia won 3-2 to stay unbeaten and move to fourth place in the standings.

Antonio Conte admits he misses Italy, plans to return home

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This is not exactly what Chelsea’s fans will want to hear on a Monday morning after a resounding 4-0 win at Stoke as the Blues moved up to third in the Premier League table.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Antonio Conte, who delivered the Premier League title in his first season in charge of the Blues, and his first season in England, in 2016-17, has been speaking of his desire to return to his homeland.

Conte, 48, spoke to Italian radio station RadioUno about his experience in the Premier League and left the door wide-open for a return to Serie A in the coming months as he admitted he misses Italy.

“I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” Conte said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future. Us managers have the most precarious job of all. Today you’re working, tomorrow you’re out. I want to succeed, to finish one project and make the right decision about the next. This experience has given me so much, has improved me so much, but perhaps in the future I won’t be a manager. Perhaps I’ll work as a director of football. I don’t know.”

Conte has been linked with the managers job at Inter Milan and with comments like this, those links will not go away.

Adding further fuel to the fire was his decision to only signed an improved contract over the summer rather than extending his stay at Stamford Bridge. Conte’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

After a tough summer and a tough start to the season which saw a feud with Diego Costa dominate the talk surrounding Chelsea, a loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, an opening day defeat at home to Burnley, plus some questionable dealings in the transfer market, the pressure was piling on Conte.

His team have responded with five wins in their next six games in all competitions and are right up there with the early pacesetters in the Premier League.

That said, the fact that Conte was under any pressure whatsoever was a joke considering what he had achieved last season when nobody expected Chelsea to seriously challenge for the title. Therein lies why he could want out when his current deal at Chelsea is up, or maybe even sooner than that.

In situations like this I often think about what Eric Cantona did: leave before anybody else expects you to and you’ll go out, and remain, a hero.