Koeman digs in over Schneiderlin and insists ‘difficult’ stand-off will not end in another sale


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The Independent Football

Ronald Koeman, the Southampton manager, has said Morgan Schneiderlin is not in the right frame of mind to play in a friendly against Bayer Leverkusen today but he insisted the French midfielder will not be joining the exodus from St Mary’s.

Schneiderlin, who has been linked with a move away from St Mary’s this summer, held talks with Koeman and club chairman Ralph Krueger yesterday morning where it was again made clear that he would not be allowed to leave despite reportedly having put in a transfer request.

The France international trained with his team-mates this week, albeit spending two days separately as he regains fitness following an extended rest after the World Cup.

“The situation is difficult, the player makes it difficult,” Koeman said. “I spoke to him with our chairman and the situation has not changed – we don’t sell Schneiderlin and he has to accept that.

“Tomorrow he is not in the squad. He said he is not physically and, even more, mentally prepared for tomorrow. On one side I can understand that. We told him to take the weekend off and think about the situation.”

Koeman, who took over from Mauricio Pochettino at the end of last season, added: “He will continue as a football player of Southampton. Now it is up to him.”

Schneiderlin has attracted interest from Tottenham and Arsenal and the 24-year-old has expressed his anger at not being allowed to follow other key players such as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers in leaving the club.

Defender Jose Fonte, however, will not be departing. The 30-year-old Portuguese has signed a new contract until 2017 and he hopes Schneiderlin will join him in remaining at the club.

“It is very simple. Schneiderlin is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League,” said Fonte, who will captain the team this season.

“As a team-mate I always want him in front of me – he has more interceptions and more tackles than anyone else and he runs miles. He is a great player. As the manager says, it is a difficult situation.

“For us, we want him in the team and we will do everything we can to make him happy so he stays here and achieves great things.”

Southampton have taken steps towards replacing those who have left with the signings of the talented young Algerian Saphir Taïder, midfielder Dusan Tadic, striker Graziano Pelle and defender Ryan Bertrand.

The club are also chasing Argentina and Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo, while a deal is understood to be close for Steaua Bucharest defender Florin Gardos.

“We are interested in Gardos but until now they haven’t told me it is signed or done – but we are interested, that is true,” Koeman said. “We are interested in Rojo but the transfer is a question for the chairman and [executive director] Les Reed. These two players are both on our list.”

Southampton have let six first-team players go so far this summer and Koeman admits the squad needs bolstering ahead of their Premier League opener away to Liverpool next week.

“It is not about a specific number but we need more competition in the squad than we have now,” Koeman said. “Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three because we have to be prepared.

“I’m very happy about the quality in the squad but the season in the Premier League is long and we need more players of Premier League level to have real competition. To achieve that more players will come into the team.”