The Saints face the break-up of the spine of their team as they prepare to cash in on Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Dejan Lovren to service debtsBy Wayne Veysey
Southampton face the break-up of their much-admired team this summer as they prepare to listen to offers for star men Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin and Dejan Lovren.
With an outstanding transfer debt of £27 million and doubts about owner Katharina Liebherr's ambition, the south coast club are ready to cash in on some of their prize playing assets.
There is also the growing likelihood that they will lose manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is the standout frontrunner alongside Ajax's Frank de Boer to take on the Tottenham manager's job that will be vacated by Tim Sherwood next month.
Southampton executive director Les Reed claimed last week that the club have received "no enquiries or offers for any of our players".
However, Shaw is set for a £20m-plus summer switch to either Manchester United or Chelsea as he prepares to leave the club that he joined as an eight-year-old.
The 18-year-old left-back was named in the PFA team of the season last Sunday and his outstanding development is likely to be recognised in a call-up to England's World Cup squad.
Lallana is contracted to the Saints until 2018 after signing a new deal last year but those close to him believe that the next window could be the right time to move to one of England's marquee clubs.
Liverpool, who are currently in pole position to capture the 25-year-old attacking midfielder, want to agree an early deal for Lallana amid fears that his value could rocket on the back of an impressive showing at this summer’s World Cup.
Pochettino spoke in glowing terms of his club captain in the wake of Southampton’s recent 4-0 win over Newcastle, describing him as a “special and unique player” who “has the skills of an [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi or [Cesc] Fabregas”.
Schneiderlin, the all-action central midfielder, is a long-time target of Arsenal, who have extensively scouted him in the last two seasons. The 24-year-old Frenchman is rated in the £15m bracket.
Meanwhile, Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren, a revelation in his first season in the Premier League, is being closely monitored by Liverpool.
Forward Jay Rodriguez, Southampton's top scorer this season with 17 goals, has already attracted interest from leading clubs but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament earlier this month and is unlikely to play again until next year.
New Southampton director Hans Hofstetter admitted last month that the restructured board had “inherited a difficult situation financially” as it emerged in the club’s latest set of annual accounts that there was an outstanding transfer debt of £27m.
The future of the key players at St Mary's could be tied to that of Pochettino, who is yet to extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.