Could England's World Cup dreams lie in a Southampton nightmare?
England kick off their World Cup campaign against Italy on Saturday and while a nation will hold its breath hoping for its players to shine, one english club, may not be so enthusiastic.
Southampton have already lost their star striker Rickie Lambert to boyhood club Liverpool (for what some may consider a miserly fee), Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw are now the only saints players representing the three lions at Brazil.
Shaw in particular is rumoured to be subject of a multi-million pound move to Manchester United, while team mate Lallana could join Lambert at Liverpool.
Does this highlight just how cruel football can be for lesser clubs? Having supplied veteran Lambert with his first taste of top-flight success, the Kop fan will leave a huge void to fill. Having brought both Lallana and Shaw up through the academy ranks, surely it would leave a sour taste in saints mouths to see them depart.
Of course, from a business point of view, its golddust. Producing talented players at low cost then selling them on for a lavish fee is every owners dream (although they're no doubt still kicking themselves over a certain welsh wizard currently conquering Madrid). But where does this get them long term?
Highly regarded manager Mauricio Pochettino has been snapped up by Tottenham Hotspurs, so any players he might have been able to persuade might join him in North London, and finding an adequate replacement will need to be their highest of priorities. Defender Dejan Lovren has just recently handed in a transfer request and with uncertainty still looming over Shaw and Lallana, where is Southampton's next route?
Can they really keep producing quality from their youth ranks, buying players for pocket money and turning them into world stars? Would there be a possibility of Lallana and Shaw joining their former manager at Spurs? A lot will depend on just how well England do at the World Cup. Who knows, maybe the dynamic duo will stay loyal and help build on the Saints recent success, but with this being the modern era that it is, you'd be a brave soul to back that scenario.
So Southampton fans will probably be crossing their fingers that Roy Hodgson's men will be successful without too much help from the young stars. Either that, or pray the board have a few aces up their sleeves.
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