Keep Shaw and Lallana says former Southampton chairman Cortese

Nicola Cortese says Southampton must do it all they can to keep young stars Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, 'We created those talents ... You don't produce them just to sell, otherwise you give away your ambition'.
Southampton's Luke Shaw defends Manchester City's Samir Nasri during a Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium on December 7, 2013. Glyn Kirk / AFP
Southampton's Luke Shaw defends Manchester City's Samir Nasri during a Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium on December 7, 2013. Glyn Kirk / AFP

Southampton’s England stars Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana would be safely secured at the south coast Premier League club if former chairman Nicola Cortese were still at the helm, the Italian said on Wednesday.

“We created those talents – it was key to keep them,” he said in an interview with the BBC, his first since quitting in January. “You don’t produce them just to sell, otherwise you give away your ambition.”

Left-back Shaw is believed to be the subject of a 27 million pounds (Dh167m) offer from Manchester United, while Liverpool have targeted creative midfielder and Saints skipper Lallana with what is reported to be a 20 million pounds bid.

Cortese, who became chairman when Southampton were a League One (third division) club five years ago, said that he was confident the big names at the side would not have left during his watch, and that he had never feared losing players.

“I can tell you that I didn’t have that fear to the last day I was at the club. I was confident about plenty of conversations I had with the players.

“I knew the players themselves wanted to stick together because this vision was something they believed in, too. I didn’t see any reason for them to go.

“I didn’t have written offers, but I obviously had phone calls. My answer was that it was not going to happen for at least the next two seasons. The other chairmen respected that. Until the day I left, there were no offers.”

Shaw and Lallana’s stock has risen considerably in the last six months, however – not least because the pair are in England manager Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup, along with teammate Rickie Lambert.

Cortese cautioned Southampton’s in-demand young manager Mauricio Pochettino from having his head turned by clubs with deeper pockets.

“When you plan a career, it is important to make the right decision at the right time. Often we have maybe seen people take too quick a step which ultimately backfires,” he said.

Cortese appointed the 42-year-old in January 2013, and the former Argentine international led Southampton to eighth place in the Premier League with a club record 56 points.

His stellar season has seen him become the favourite to take over at Tottenham Hotspur, following Spurs’ sacking of Tim Sherwood last week.

Southampton are believed to have tabled an improved contract for the Argentine, but Pochettino has kept his counsel over the affair. His players are none the wiser, and are waiting to see how the situation resolves itself.

“It’s up in the air and we’re not too sure at the moment,” striker Jay Rodriguez told talkSPORT.

“He (Pochettino) is unbelievable. I think anyone will say what a great manager he is and what a good guy he is, to see how well he’s done with the type of football we’re playing.”

The manager himself has proved enigmatic on the subject, and has said little to ease fans’ fears he will leave the south coast for a club with deeper pockets.

“There is an owner of the club, there is a chairman of the club and I am just a football manager,” he told local media earlier this month, eschewing an opportunity to pledge his future to Southampton.

Cortese said: “I don’t know what has happened since I left, so it is difficult for me to judge whether he potentially wants to leave or whether the offer from another club is really that good. That is beyond my knowledge, but he is ambitious and rightly so.”

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Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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