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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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