Sunday 17 December 2017

Koeman keen to keep key names

New Saints boss Ronald Koeman, pictured, is keen to keep hold of Dejan Lovren
New Saints boss Ronald Koeman, pictured, is keen to keep hold of Dejan Lovren

Ronald Koeman insists Southampton will no longer be a selling club and has told wantaway defender Dejan Lovren he was wrong to make public his desire to leave the Saints.

Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw have already departed St Mary's this summer and, at his unveiling as Saints boss on Friday, Koeman was pressed on other key players who have been linked with moves away.

The former Barcelona defender is hopeful he will be able to keep Lovren, as well as midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, insisting the club are determined to hold on to their prize assets from now on.

"The first meeting with (executive director) Les Reed was open and clear," Koeman said.

"I knew about Lambert, Lallana and Shaw but after that we said, 'OK, we are not a selling club - we want to keep the rest of the good players and bring new players in'.

"We will continue with the Southampton philosophy which means we like to bring in young players and to continue what they did last season.

"They had a fantastic season last season and still we have ambition to go forward."

Earlier this week, Lovren expressed his anger that Southampton had not informed him of a bid from Liverpool.

The centre-half was a key part of the Saints' success last season under departed manager Mauricio Pochettino and he is due to return to the club on Sunday before the squad leave for a pre-season tour of Belgium.

"I spoke to Dejan twice and he was very clear about his situation," Koeman said.

"I am the new manager I want to keep all the good players - I want to keep Dejan in the team because he is an important player in the team.

"We have to do what the best is for the club. He has a contract, he has to come back this Sunday but I don't know what will happen after this.

"It's football and there is a lot of movement but first of all we like to keep all that information in the club and not in the press. That was not a good thing of his side."

Koeman added: "I wasn't happy with his comments in the press.That is not good for the club, for the rest of the players or for himself and we will speak about whether to fine him or not."

Schneiderlin has been on World Cup duty with France, who were knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals last week.

The defensive midfielder is due back at Southampton in a fortnight and Koeman is confident the 24-year-old will not be sold.

"We don't have any bids for Schneiderlin," Koeman said.

"He is a Southampton player and he will stay a Southampton player."

Koeman was less certain on the future of Dani Osvaldo, who has failed to return for pre-season.

The troublesome striker was involved in an incident with team-mate Jose Fonte in training in January and spent the second half of last season on loan at Juventus.

"Osvaldo has a contract," Koeman said.

"What happened last season I don't know, it wasn't my problem. I like to have a really good atmosphere in the team but he hasn't been at Southampton when he was meant to be at Southampton.

"We heard from his agent that he was ill - I haven't spoken to him.

"We will go to Belgium on Sunday and he will come back to train on his own because he is too late and then he will have to speak to the club."

Southampton's big-money sales have bolstered the club's transfer budget and Koeman has been assured he will be able to reinvest the money into the team.

The Dutch boss has already signed attacking midfielder Dusan Tadic as a replacement for Lallana and a deal is close for striker Graziano Pelle, who he worked with at Feyenoord.

"We are looking at the positions in the squad and we are happy we have Tadic as a new player," Koeman said.

"Lallana is a great player in this position and we had some other possibilities but Tadic is a great player, a player who scores and makes assists."

On Pelle, Koeman added: "A deal is close - it's still not signed but it's coming close. We hope this weekend to have him as the second new player of Southampton."

Press Association

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