Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has revealed that he was told to go on strike as he attempted to force a transfer this past summer, reports the Express.
The 24-year-old - who starred for the French national side in the World Cup - was heavily linked with a move away from the St Mary's throughout the transfer window.
A number of the Premier League big-boys were seemingly interested in landing the Frenchman, with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all linked with his services.
And, amid interest from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Co. Schneiderlin has admitted that he was involved in a tense meeting with Southampton officials over a possible move away from the club.
The midfield ace told reporters: “Was the meeting with Southampton officials on July 29 tense? Yes.
"In the months building up to it, there was interest from clubs – three clubs and Tottenham were among them.
“Since February/March, my agents and I had talked with Southampton about a possible departure. The club always told me they would sell for the right price.
“My agents and I went to that meeting on July 29 in a peaceful state of mind, with exciting propositions. To me, with my six years at Southampton and everything I had given to the club, everything should have been sorted that day.
Schneiderlin watched a number of his teammates depart the club for the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, so it's not surprising that he was on the lookout for a transfer after the exodus at the club.
He continued by saying: “I told them I signed for a project that was supposed to keep the best elements in order to go higher. Before that meeting, (Adam) Lallana, (Dejan) Lovren, (Rickie) Lambert, Luke Shaw and (Calum) Chambers all left. I said to myself: ‘This is not the same situation, this is not possible. What are they doing?’ At that moment, Southampton hadn’t signed anyone.
“Chambers signed for Arsenal the day before our meeting and the club saw the fans getting mad. They thought: ‘If Morgan leaves the stadium will be burnt’. So they told us: ‘Morgan is not for sale, we won’t listen to anything. That is the decision and there is nothing more to say’.
“After I refused to play the friendly against Leverkusen on August 9, the chairman came to speak to me and let me have the weekend to think about things.
The 24-year-old has now insisted that, despite being told to go on strike, he's fully committed to the club, and would love to help them reach the Champions League this season.
He finished by saying: “I talked to a lot of people. Some told me to go on strike, that the club will finally give up. My agents never said that, they just told me to make a decision.
“I felt that the officials wouldn’t let me leave, that they would rather leave me on the sidelines for six months. So I resumed training because I really needed to play football again.
“I played against Liverpool at Anfield and all the Southampton fans applauded me and chanted my name. It was so heart-warming. I knew then I would spend the whole season at Southampton.
“Maybe now we will achieve something amazing here. Champions League qualification would be fantastic. I hope to play in the Champions League one day, of course. I want to play every three days. But why not play in the Champions League with Southampton?”
The Saints have certainly enjoyed a fine start to the campaign and are ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal in the table. Despite losing at White Hart Lane in their last fixture, the Saints have secured 13 points from their opening seven fixtures, sitting in third position.
Schneiderlin and Co. will be hoping to continue their fine start to the season after the international break when the Saints play host to Sunderland on October 18.
Southampton fans: Do you think Champions League qualification is a realistic ambition for your club this season? Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham fans: Do you want your clubs to swoop for Schneiderlin once again next summer? Have your say in the comments section below!