The loss of key players has become all too common for Southampton over the last two seasons.
After losing Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool and Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United in the summer, they managed to fend off a reported £15 million bid from the latter for star winger Sadio Mane.
Mane was a key figure during Southampton’s fine season last year - helping guide the Saints to a seventh-place finish and a spot in Europe - and has continued to impress this season, most notably in the memorable 3-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
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The tricky winger may just be the finishing piece of Louis van Gaal’s strike-force jigsaw, although many United fans will want to see an out-and-out striker brought in instead with Juan Mata, Memphis Depay and Wayne Rooney taking up the support roles just behind the centre-forward.
After another summer of big spending, Van Gaal may be put off by Mane’s substantial price tag, but the Red Devils will be eager to test Southampton’s resolve, with Ronald Koeman conceding that his impressive Saints side are still not considered a top-tier team and is believed to be resigned to losing his star man.
Mane is key for Southampton
In an interview with the Daily Echo - per the Express - he said: "Ok, maybe one day we will lose Mane but then we have to be prepared."
It will be impossible, though, for Southampton to progress as a club if they cannot keep hold of their big names - and players like Mane are key for the development of the south-coast club.