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Southampton ‘not a pig to be fattened’

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Southampton’s majority owner Gao Jisheng has rarely talked about purchasing the Premier League club. If ever.

However, the Chinese real estate tycoon has now been talking and it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to pump much, if any, of his own money into Saints in the coming years.

In a rare interview with the Financial Times in Shanghai, Gao revealed some of his plans for the future of the South Coast club.

“I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold,” Gao said. “I am treating it as a child. But my children must believe they cannot depend on the boss. I have said to Southampton: ‘I am now your father. But I am putting you on the right track: you need to feed yourself.’”

He added: “The club’s financial situation is good this year and it doesn’t require more investment.”

Southampton’s fans will not be too shocked to hear these words from Gao, but will be intrigued to have had heard anything at all from him.

The Chinese businessman often attends games but has never spoken publicly about his reasons and motivations for buying an 80 percent stake in the club from the Liebherr family back in 2017.

With his property company Lander Sports buying the club, Gao recently sold a large chunk of his stake in Lander to the Chinese government which led to the Premier League requesting information from Southampton about whether or not they were now owned by the state of China.

Gao has brushed off those suggestions, saying he has given the PL the information they need and they are satisfied. Lander Sports, who own the 80 percent stake in Saints, are based in Hong Kong due to strict laws about risky foreign investments in mainland China.

All of this is a little confusing for Southampton fans, but the main thing to come from Gao’s comments is that they shouldn’t expect a huge flurry of big money signings as long as he’s the owner but they could spend some money this summer without selling anybody.

Gao wants the club to be self-sustaining and that is pretty admirable in this day and age when fans demand huge money spent on new players, and will then slam the club when relegation could see it spiral into financial meltdown.

Southampton have always been a club which produces young talent and then sells players on for a huge profit. That won’t change anytime soon.

But after two close shaves with relegation over the past two seasons, it is clear Southampton’s squad needs a large rebuild under Ralph Hasenhuttl this summer. If they can sell on a plethora of players who have been out of the picture and out on loan last season, then they will be able to reinvest that cash in new players.

How successful Saints are at doing that this offseason will determine if Hasenhuttl’s side can kick on and push for a top 10 finish next season. The coach has worked wonders with one of the youngest squads in the PL since he arrived last December and there is plenty of promise that a full season of Hasenhuttl-ball will see Saints not embroiled in yet another relegation scrap.

Gao’s comments underline the fact he will not spend big like Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun, but given how much Saints have spent over the past few years (they are one of the few PL clubs to make a profit in transfer business year in, year out) this wasn’t a huge surprise.

With Southampton playing a game in China again this offseason, their new sponsorship deal with LD Sports (a company yet to launch in China) has seen them double their revenue in terms of sponsorship in a club-record deal.

Gao’s connections in China are helping the club financially in certain aspects, but it appears they will not pump money in to try and challenge the PL’s elite like they did in years gone by under Ronald Koeman. In truth, their success under Koeman was fuelled by selling a host of star names such as Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Morgan Schneiderlin, which allowed them to buy Sadio Made, Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Virgil Van Dijk among others.

Saints must unearth a few more gems in the transfer window this summer to keep their model rolling along and bring about another push into the top half of the table. They have a great manager, some talented youngsters and a sensible owner.

The latter will hamper any progress their fans have of making another push for European qualification in the years to come.

Liverpool’s Lallana wants Southampton return

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Frustrated with a lack of playing time for Jurgen Klopp‘s high-flying Reds, Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana would like to go back home.

Lallana, 31, couldn’t record a goal nor assist in just under 600 minutes this season, a couple of hundred minutes more than he found in 2017-18.

[ MORE: Terriers release Williams, Lossl ]

This after a strong trio of seasons with the Reds following a $32 million buy from Southampton, and now Saints look to welcome him back.

Liverpool wants a reported $17 million, which seems a touch high.

Lallana is a Saints legend, having helped the club rise from League One to the Premier League. He posted nine goals and eight assists in his lone PL campaign for the St. Mary’s outfit.

Saints brought Danny Ings home last summer, so perhaps there’s another reunion on deck.

Southampton, Huddersfield draw (video)

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  • Redmond gave Saints lead
  • Pritchard equalized for Terriers
  • Saints winless in 5 games

Southampton and Huddersfield Town battled to a 1-1 draw on the final day of the season at St Mary’s Stadium.

Nathan Redmond gave Southampton the lead in the first half with a stunning strike, but bottom side Huddersfield equalized in the second half through Alex Pritchard‘s strike.

With the draw Saints finish the season in 16th on 39 points, while Huddersfield have 16 points and finish in 20th in their final game in the Premier League after their relegation was confirmed in March.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints started well and Danny Ings cut in from the left before setting up Redmond, but his shot was blocked by a sea of Huddersfield defenders.

Shane Long then had a speculative effort from distance which sailed harmlessly wide, as Huddersfield were increasingly a threat on the counter with Aaron Mooy‘s shot curling just wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Before half time Saints finally broke through as Ings again linked up with Redmond and the latter cut inside before curling home a stunning shot to make it 1-0.

Ings caused havoc all game long and he then had a shot blocked at the last moment as Huddersfield’s defense were run ragged.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Saints almost scored their second spectacular goal of the game. James Ward-Prowse let fly from distance but Joel Coleman did superbly to tip the ball onto the bar.

Huddersfield then scored after a horrendous mistake from Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn, as he a failed to control a pass from Ryan Bertrand and Pritchard robbed him of the ball and scored. 1-1.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both teams huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a winner, as Christopher Schindler went close but the game ended in a draw.

West Ham smash Saints (video)

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  • Arnautovic scores twice
  • Back-to-back wins for West Ham
  • 4 games without a win for Saints

West Ham eased by Southampton 3-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday, as the Hammers continued to end the season with a flourish.

Marko Arnautovic struck in each half to put West Ham in control, and Ryan Fredericks added another late on to seal the win. Southampton were better in the second half, but were second best for large spells of this game.

With the win West Ham are in 11th on 49 points, while Saints remain in 16th on 38 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Early on Saints had plenty of the play and Stuart Armstrong fired over after a good ball from Ings.

But West Ham took the lead after a horrible mistake from Yan Valery. The young defender passed the ball inside to Mark Noble who set up Arnautovic to slot home and made it 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Buoyed by that early goal, West Ham pinned Saints back and forced Fraser Forster (making his first appearance since December 2017) into a smart stop.

Forster then denied Michail Antonio from distance as the Hammers dominated the first half and deservedly led.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Nathan Redmond came on at half time and was in right away but his shot was blocked. And Redmond’s effort from a corner was then blocked as Saints pushed hard for an equalizer.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lukasz Fabianski then tipped Redmond’s shot over the bar but then West Ham sealed the win. Arthur Masuaku‘s cross was punched out by Forster but the ball rebounded back to Arnautovic who nodded into an empty net to score his and West Ham’s second.

The Hammers took care of the Saints with minimum fuss as Jack Wilshere, on as a sub, flicked the ball into Ryan Fredericks’ path and the right back finished to make it 3-0.

Arnautovic almost wrapped up his hat trick late on but curled just wide, as West Ham eased to victory and Southampton showed how much work Ralph Hasenhuttl has to do over the summer after they survived relegation.

Watch Live: Wolves v. Fulham; West Ham v. Saints

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Two Premier League games take place at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, as the penultimate weekend of the season is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Wolves host Fulham knowing a win will push them closer to seventh place and a European place, while West Ham host Southampton with both teams aiming to push themselves a few places up the table.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for two games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Fulham – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]