Southampton are resigned to striker Sadio Mane leaving the club in the near future. Chairman Ralph Krueger says the club know that while they remain outside the main throng of sides in the Premier League they will continue to be prayed upon by the likes of Manchester United.
United made a £15m ($22.9m) bid, according to the Daily Mail, for Mane during the final fortnight of the summer transfer window, but withdrew from the deal and opted instead to sign Anthony Martial from Monaco. Saints have suffered eight high-profile player exits in the last two transfer windows but finished seventh last season and have already beaten reigning champions Chelsea away this term.
Krueger says Southampton appreciate that despite their meteoric rise under Ronald Koeman, they are not yet among the first tier of clubs in the English top flight and are therefore content with their role of supplementing their lofty rivals. "I believe that things are going to happen for a reason and at the moment [Mane] is very, very strong for us and the goal over time is this is the final destination," the Canadian owner said to the Leaders in Sport Business Summit.
"Maybe it isn't for players but we're moving towards that and we still understand where we sit in the whole balance of English football and we respect that. We're working hard at every level to ensure we are the final destination but we have to earn that."
As well as a significant turnover of players, which has seen the likes of Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne join Liverpool and United sign Morgan Schneiderlin, the south coast club also suffered the loss of manager Mauricio Pochettino. Koeman's early success at St Mary's, which saw him guide the club to the Europa League in his first season, had him initially linked with the vacant managers position at Liverpool. Krueger is unperturbed however, but admits there is no plan in place in case the Dutch coach departs in the near future.
"There is no point focusing on that [if Koeman wants to leave]," he added. "You are always preparing yourself for any possible scenario.
"More than anything we're focusing on working together with Ronald and we believe in the structure of the club is solid at the moment and he has the best opportunity to grow the club. I am not the sort of person who focuses on potential situations, when they arise we deal with them confidently, swiftly and we find solutions but that is not even an issue right now.
"I believe that every single business situation that is solid would understand that there has to be potential options. That crystallises by itself. When Mauricio left we had a list, we put it together calmly there is no rush but that is not going to happen right now."