Katharina Liebherr, the owner of Southampton who has installed herself as non-executive chairman in the wake of Nicola Cortese’s departure, has pledged not to sell players during the current transfer window. In a statement issued through a London PR company she said: “The club has no plans to sell any of the squad during the January transfer window. The manager and the team have my full support.”
This should be good news to Mauricio Pochettino, the manager, who claimed yesterday he had no time to discuss this with Liebherr when the two met at St Mary’s. “It was five minutes, hello, and goodbye,” the Argentine said.
The power vacuum left at Southampton by the resignation of Cortese, who was an all-powerful chief executive, prompted speculation that rival clubs would attempt to prise away the club’s young English talents, notably Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse. In addition West Ham had made a bid to sign England striker Rickie Lambert.
Pochettino insisted yesterday that no players would be leaving in the transfer window without his consent. This was interpreted in some quarters as a challenge to Liebherr. If so it has been a successful gambit. However, it should be noted the heiress, who inherited the club upon the death of her father Markus in 2010, has continued to pump money into it even if she has not often visited – yesterday was only the second time she had met Pochettino, who was appointed a year ago.
There is still uncertainty as to what will happen at the end of the season. Pochettino is under contract for 17 more months but indicated yesterday he would review his position in the summer. Much will depend on who replaces Cortese.