Southampton find themselves in an all too familiar position this summer, with admiring glances being shot in the direction of their most prized assets.
Netherlands international defender Virgil van Dijk is very much a man in demand, with the classy centre-half having offered enough during two seasons at St Mary’s to convince the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and (obviously) Liverpool that he would be a fine addition to their respective ranks.
Were he to move on, then the Saints can be expected to be compensated to the tune of some £50 million-plus.
So while losing Van Dijk would be an obvious blow, Southampton have shown since returning to the Premier League in 2012 that they are capable of rolling with the punches and covering their losses with some fine additions – with over £181 million worth of talent having slipped through their net.
ARTUR BORUC, BOURNEMOUTH, FREE
Not the most costly of exits as the Polish goalkeeper was allowed to move on in the wake of Fraser Forster’s arrival from Celtic.
He is, however, a proven performer with vast experience and continues to impress along the south coast at Bournemouth at 37 years of age.
NATHANIEL CLYNE, LIVERPOOL, £12.5m
Having been courted by Premier League clubs for a number of years, Southampton were the ones to take the plunge in 2012 when they paid Crystal Palace a little over £2 million for the highly-rated right-back.
Three years later, they moved him on for six times what they had paid when Liverpool came calling once again.
DEJAN LOVREN, LIVERPOOL, £20m
Another massive profit made by the Saints on a player they acquired from Lyon for £8.5 million and offloaded to Anfield after just one season in England.
After enduring a testing start to his time on Merseyside, the Croatian centre-half has started to show his true colours and penned a new contract in April, with Jurgen Klopp saying: “[He had] a difficult start at Liverpool, but he’s really settled, that’s really good. Physically strong, quick, good footballer, sometimes decision-making could be better, but nobody out there is perfect.”
JOSE FONTE, WEST HAM UNITED, £8m
Spent seven years at St Mary’s, helping Southampton to recover from slipping into League One to become an established Premier League side.
Earned international recognition with Portugal along the way, helping them to European Championship glory in 2016, but jumped shipped in January 2017 – with the Saints bringing in a sizeable fee for a 33-year-old.
LUKE SHAW, MANCHESTER UNITED, £30m
Having previously lost the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Saints saw another promising young talent lured away in 2014.
Things have not gone entirely to plan for Shaw at Old Trafford, with injuries and questioning of his attitude holding him back, but he remains just 21 years of age and Gary Neville, who knows a thing or two about being a full-back, has told Sky Sports: “I'm hoping, from afar - knowing him and working with him - that Luke Shaw can get back to his best because he has the talent, no doubt about that.”
SADIO MANE, LIVERPOOL, £34m
Two seasons with the Saints saw the lively forward reach double figures in terms of goals scored, with that haul including the quickest hat-trick in Premier League history.
Settled immediately at Anfield and drew plenty of praise before an unfortunate injury ended his debut campaign, with Thierry Henry telling Sky Sports of the Senegalese star: “No disrespect to Southampton, you can clearly see he does it to another level now with better players around him. I wouldn’t like to play against him.”
VICTOR WANYAMA, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, £11m
Southampton would have unquestionably got more for the combative midfielder had he not had had just 12 months remaining on his contract when heading to White Hart Lane.
The Saints did well to fend off interest for a number of windows, but an exit soon became inevitable and the Kenyan is now a driving force at the heart of a side harbouring Premier League title aspirations.
MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN, MANCHESTER UNITED, £25m
Another of those to have graced three tiers of English football with the Saints, having been snapped up for a bargain £1.2 million from Strasbourg in 2008.
Made over 250 appearances for the club, but quickly became another that it was impossible to hang on to and earned Southampton a mammoth profit when finally joining Manchester United in the summer of 2015.
ADAM LALLANA, LIVERPOOL, £25m
Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool dug deep to land the England international forward in the wake of the 2014 World Cup.
A Saints academy graduate has, however, gone on to flourish for club and country while at Anfield, with former Reds star Luis Garcia saying: “Like Coutinho, he is a special player who can do everything – from nowhere they can score a brilliant goal or play a brilliant pass. This year we have seen his best, but I think he can continue growing.”
GRAZIANO PELLE, SHANDONG LUNENG, £12m
Reunited with former Feyenoord boss Ronald Koeman at Southampton in 2014 and largely impressed during his time in England, with his physical attributes perfect for the Premier League.
Was, however, to see his head turned by the Chinese Super League riches in 2016, but the Saints once again brought in decent money for a player who was about to turn 30 at the time of his sale.
RICKIE LAMBERT, LIVERPOOL, £4m
A cult hero at Southampton and the man who sparked the mass exodus of talent from St Mary’s to Anfield when making a move to his boyhood club in June 2014 – just seven years on from turning out for Bristol Rovers in League Two.
Netted more than 100 goals for the Saints across five seasons from League One to the Premier League, earning England recognition along the way, but has found out that the grass is not always greener on the other side and is now slipping back down the divisions at the age of 35.
AND HERE’S HOW THEY LINE UP...
It now remains to be seen whether Van Dijk will be next and take Southampton’s sale total since 2012 through the £200 million barrier.