As soon as Nicola Cortese resigned as Southampton’s chairman in January 2014, speculation surfaced over the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino and the club’s star players.
Fast forward to the end of the season, and these rumours seem to have come to fruition. Pochettino has left the Saints for Tottenham Hotspur, while captain Adam Lallana and highly-rated left-back Luke Shaw both have been linked with big-money moves away from the Saints.
So what does the future have in store for Southampton?
What is important is that they keep sight of their vision for European football. While this no longer seems impossible after a strong second season in the Premier League, the Saints need to keep hold of their best players.
Liverpool’s interest in England international Lallana threatens to dissolve the glue that holds the squad together on the pitch by ripping out the heart of the club - a man who featured in all 38 league games and contributed with nine goals and six assists from midfield.
Shaw has reportedly attracted the interest of Manchester United and Chelsea. The sale of this young talent will again hamper the development of the club, just as departures of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gareth Bale (the most expensive player in the world) robbed Southampton of earlier progress.
The potential sale of key players will further threaten to undermine the club’s recent success. Lallana or Shaw is not irreplaceable, but the chemistry this squad has generated during their journey from League One to the Premier League is something that money can’t replace.