Dejan Lovren has dealt Saints another summer blow by handing in a formal transfer request.
Sources close to the £8.5m defender, who is preparing with Croatia for tomorrow’s World Cup opener against Brazil, have confirmed to the Daily Echo that he has written to the club asking to leave.
Lovren is the subject of significant interest from England and abroad, with Liverpool thought to be keen on signing him.
Lovren became the club’s most expensive ever defender when he joined from Lyon last summer and has gone from strength to strength in his first season in the Premier League.
It is understood that he has told Saints that he wishes to play Champions League football next season.
Saints though have made it clear to Lovren that they will hold fire on any dealings until a new manager to replace Mauricio Pochettino is in place.
Executive director Les Reed made his feelings quite clear earlier in the week when he said: “There is no way that I or the board were going to make any decisions without the new manager having the opportunity to assess those players and their value to the squad, and having the opportunity to talk to them and to try to persuade them that this was the place to be.
“It’s a balancing act – it’s about keeping players we’ve got informed, trying to persuade them to be patient and to wait and see.
“That’s not always easy when other clubs publicly announce that they’re interested in your players because it does destabilise them a bit.
“However, it is very important that our new manager has the opportunity to show them what he might do.
“Also, it’s important for them to know who our new manager is because they don’t at the moment, so maybe that will have an effect.
“The most important factor in it is whether they factor into his vision for the future, so the decision to sell or recruit will always be based on what he thinks is best for the club.”
The timing of the World Cup and Lovren’s presence in Brazil also means any move is highly unlikely before the tournament wraps up.
As previously reported in the Daily Echo, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana have also told Saints they wish to leave the club this summer, though neither of the England squad members have handed in a formal transfer request like Lovren.