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

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

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PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.

Mexico 1-0 Honduras: Pizarro strikes early to put El Tri in Gold Cup semifinals

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Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.

Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.

Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.

Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.

Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.

Manchester United beats City 2-0 in preseason Derby

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Manchester is Red, at least for the preseason.

Manchester United used quickfire first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford to topple Manchester City 2-0 in Houston as part of the International Champions Cup.

The first half-hour saw plenty of action, but nothing in terms of goals. New Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker made a great run to cut down Rashford before he could shoot, while goalkeeper Ederson was required to keep out Paul Pogba.

On the other end, Chris Smalling was active often, nearly conceding a penalty with a pull on the shirt of Patrick Roberts, while also cleaning up after a high City press caught United in their own defensive third.

[ MORE: West Ham signs Chicharito ]

Just before halftime, United went in front thanks to their prized new striker. Pogba launched an absolutely brilliant long-ball, and Lukaku streaked to meet it, heading past a charging Ederson before cutting from a tight angle into the empty net before defenders could recover.

Immediately after, Rashford put United 2-0 up on a cool finish from the right with space after a ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The score is Rashford’s third goal of the United States tour.

After a host of changes at halftime that saw City keep just four players on the field, it didn’t help as United kept on the pressure. Rashford almost scored an accidental long-range chip as his long-ball to the far post nearly went in, but Ederson tipped it over. Moments later, Lukaku thundered a howitzer into the crossbar.

United made a host of changes past the hour mark, and they nearly had another if not for the offside flag raising on Phil Jones after a double-save by Ederson. City had a big chance in the final 10 minutes, as a great ball from Samir Nasri found Gabriel Jesus, but the Brazilian put it well over.

Ederson had a solid game in net for Manchester City despite the loss, while Kyle Walker and 17-year-old City youth product Brahim Diaz also stood out. For United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was bright as were Paul Pogba and goalscorer Marcus Rashford.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 45′); Valencia (Fosu-Mensah 77′), Lindelöf (Bailly 45′), Smalling (Jones 45′), Blind (Darmian 45′); Herrera (Fellaini 62′), Pogba; Rashford (Martial 62′), Mkhitaryan (Carrick 62′), Lingard (Pereira 78′); Lukaku.

Manchester City: Ederson; Adarabioyo (Otamendi 45′), Kompany (Mangala 45′), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Sane 45′), Walker, Foden (Zinchenko 74′), De Bruyne (Diaz 45′), Sterling (Jesus 45′), Aguero (Stones 45′), Roberts (Nasri 45′).