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Demoralising Saints exodus just the start

After a tough summer so far at Southampton, FanZoner Ben Stanfield bemoans the recent sales & examines a potentially bleak future at St Mary's.

"Roll up, roll up, there's a sale going on at Southampton! Snap up your international players before they're all gone..."

It's been a tough couple of weeks being a Saints fan. After all of the positive furore of achieving our highest ever points tally in the Premier League last season, the wheels are rapidly coming off now and no-one seems to know how to steer what's left of our wagon!

In one of the most bizarre pre-seasons that possibly any Premier League club has ever suffered, Saints have been systematically dismantled through a mixture of overpriced offers from some of England's top clubs and also through some of our existing players deciding to put pressure on Saints to force a move away from St. Mary's due to disillusionment.

Whilst some of them with over-inflated egos, like Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, have been seen as somewhat positive moves by most fans (i.e. why keep a player that doesn't want to be at the club if you can also get more than the market deems they are actually worth?), others have/will leave lots of us scratching our heads.

Calum Chambers signed for Arsenal on Monday of this week. A young, raw, but very talented defender who has a big future in the game. One who, like so many, has been developed through our world renowned academy system only to then decide (at 19 years old!) that he "doesn't see his future at Southampton."

I completely appreciate that Arsenal is a step up from Southampton in footballing terms in every capacity, but surely you start to worry when a youngster like Chambers, with only 25 Premier League starts to his name in his career, already feels he should be playing (or bench warming) somewhere else.

Les Reed, our Director of Football, announced after Chambers had been confirmed as an Arsenal player that "our position remains unchanged in that we are determined to keep our best young players at the club". Unfortunately, having said the same things around 3 months ago, when he also announced in a public press conference that most enquiries for the transfer of players from Southampton to other clubs would probably be met with a no, has since seen Saints let Lovren, Shaw, Chambers and imminently Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez leave the club. All young players!

The words felt hollow to most of us who are starting to lack any faith and courage that the board is really doing what's best for the club - and not what is best for the owner.

Don't get me wrong, I'd never want a player at Saints who didn't want to play for us. Whilst I appreciate the days of a loyal, one club man, like Matt Le Tissier are long gone, you have to wonder just how so many players can effectively dismiss their contracts with Saints as irrelevant and walk out the door. Panic seems to be setting in throughout the club and it's hard to see when it is going to stop!

No-one within Southampton FC seems to be communicating properly with fans and, as you can imagine with the way social media works these days, supporters are being fed negative story one-after-the-other from various journalists who seem to have a lot of information/contacts about what is exactly going on.

As a loyal fan of your club, you want to believe what they say. You want to believe the owner isn't asset stripping and isn't preparing to sell the club (as a journalist from L'Equipe announced this week). You want to believe that Ronald Koeman is being supported in trying to bring players to the club, but how can you? It's a one way revolving door at the moment and fans aren't stupid either!

Speaking of trying to bring new players to Southampton. That's going to have its own issues for two reasons now.

Firstly, other clubs around Europe and the world know that Southampton have money. By the time that Schneiderlin and Rodriguez leave, Saints will have accrued near on 150m in player sales alone this summer. Any club that Saints approach for a player are going to quickly stick 5m+ or 10m+ on to their value because they know that Saints have money to spend. Suddenly, like other clubs have for our players, we're paying an absolute premium for potentially average players.

Secondly, how can you really attract top quality replacements to Saints when we are in the predicament we are? Any player/agent is going to see or hear what is happening at Southampton and potentially now have second thoughts about joining a club that seems to be going only one way! That means you end up with young players, with severe attitude problems, that have been deemed not good enough by other top clubs or experienced journeyman just looking for one final pay day.

It's hard to believe that Saints have gone from hero to zero so quickly.

At the moment the season is just over two weeks away. For most fans this time of year should be something we look forward to. For most Saints fans like myself it's currently filled with a massive amount of trepidation and lots of nervousness. At this rate I'll just be happy if we can actually put out a competitive team at Anfield on the 17th August!

As they say, sometimes, love hurts a lot...

By Ben Stanfield, Fanzone's Southampton Blogger. Follow him on Twitter: @benstanners, and don't forget to follow FanZone too.

Headlines for Southampton this week

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  • Demoralising Saints exodus just the start

  • After a tough summer so far at Southampton, FanZoner Ben Stanfield bemoans the recent sales & examines a potentially bleak future at St Mary's.

  • Regional Rumours in the Press: Toon look to Remy

  • Newcastle will have to make Loic Remy their top earner if they want him back at St James' Park, while midfielder Sandro could leave Tottenham

  • Rumours in the Press: Van Gaal to begin clear-out

  • Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa, Anderson and Nani will leave Man United this summer, while two more Southampton stars could join Spurs.

  • Transfer news: Arsenal sign defender Calum Chambers from Southampton

  • Arsenal have signed defender Calum Chambers from Southampton for a fee believed to be in the region of £16million.

  • Sky Bet: Betting suspended on Jay Rodrguez joining Tottenham

  • Sky Bet have slashed Southampton's relegation odds again with Jay Rodriguez expected to join the summer exodus.

  • Transfer Premier League: Southampton determined to hold on to as many young stars as possible

  • Southampton executive director Les Reed has reiterated the club's desire to hold on to young talent despite the ongoing exodus at St Mary's.

  • Transfer news: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger prepared to take gamble on Calum Chambers

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits that signing Calum Chambers from Southampton is somewhat of a gamble, but one he believes will pay off.

  • Transfer news: Liverpool sign Croatia defender Dejan Lovren from Southampton

  • Liverpool have completed the signing of Croatia centre-back Dejan Lovren from Southampton for £20million on a long-term deal.

  • Transfer news: Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino coy over potential Morgan Schneiderlin move

  • Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is keeping coy on the prospect of luring Morgan Schneiderlin from former club Southampton.

  • Transfer news: Arsenal set to sign Southampton defender Calum Chambers for £16m fee

  • Arsenal are close to signing Southampton defender Calum Chambers for £16m, according to Sky sources.

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