Are Southampton struggles on the horizon for next season?
Southampton have seen their odds on Premier League relegation in 2014/15 cut by Coral from 12/1 to 9/1. This comes following the departure of Rickie Lambert and despite the south coast club’s insistence no more players will be sold before they name a new manager.
Battering ram centre forward Lambert, 32, has sealed a reported £4m plus add-ons switch to boyhood team Liverpool, before going to the World Cup finals in Brazil with England. Other Saints members of the Three Lions 23-man squad, St Mary’s skipper Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw, are also the subject of interest from top English teams.
An official club statement has ruled out further departures from managerless Southampton, however, following Mauricio Pochettino being poached by Spurs. “We have received multiple offers for some of our players in the past weeks,” it said.
“We have no need to accept any offers. We are deep in the process of appointing a new manager who will continue to move our club forward.” Outgoing Feyenoord manager Ronald Koeman remains a strong favourite, at an odds-on price of 4/6, to take up the reins on the south coast.
Whoever is installed as new Saints boss, the exodus is unlikely to stop at just Lambert. Lallana has told the club he wants to leave when his international duty is complete in Brazil, with Liverpool tabling a £25m bid to also take him to Anfield.
Manchester United’s continuing pursuit of teenage left back Shaw, meanwhile, could see another prized asset snapped up. The Red Devils and bitter rivals Liverpool are also rumoured to want Croatia defender Dejan Lovren – he would make an ideal replacement for Nemanja Vidic or a more elegant option to Brendan Rodgers’ Slovakia centre back Martin Skrtel.
North London neighbours Arsenal and Tottenham could pick the bones from the remnants of Southampton’s midfield too. Arsene Wenger is linked to capturing compatriot Morgan Schneiderlin, a stand-by for France’s World Cup squad.
Kenya international Victor Wanyama, meanwhile, was outspoken by quizzing just how much effort the Saints board made to persuade Pochettino to stay. Off the back of such comments, a switch to White Hart Lane and a swift reunion with the Argentine coach have been talked up in the tabloids.
Uruguay attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez, something of an outsider under Pochettino, may exit too. Gossip columns claim Torino are keen to take him back to Serie A.
Should all or several of the above be sold, then that 9/1 price on the Saints losing their top-flight status looks very attractive, in spite of their prestigious academy.