Nicola Cortese
Cortese warns Saints now to listen to offers for coveted stars.GettyImages

Former Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese has warned the club they will risk unravelling the their spectacular progress if they decide to cash in on the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool targets Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.

Cortese was credited with helping guide Southampton during one of the most troubled periods in the club's history when they were relegated to League 1 before rising back to the top flight of English football in 2012.

During his time at the club, Saints emphatically restored their status as a Premier League force with a young squad that has attracted envious glances from clubs at the top of the table.

In their attempts to find a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra, Manchester United have reportedly lodged an opening bid for 18-year-old left back Luke Shaw while Liverpool are understood to have made an opening offer for skipper Adam Lallana.

Centre half Dejan Lovren has also been linked with a move to Anfield while Arsenal have been credited with interest in teenage right back Callum Chambers and midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.

And ahead of a pivotal summer for the south coast club, Cortese has urged to them not to cash in on their coveted stars, or risk undermining their recent achievements.

"We created those talents," he told BBC Sport. "It was key to keep them.

"You don't produce them just to sell, otherwise you give away your ambition."

"I can tell you that I didn't have that fear to the last day I was at the club," he said.

"I was confident about plenty of conversations I had with the players. I knew the players themselves wanted to stick together because this vision was something they believed in, too. I didn't see any reason for them to go.

"I didn't have written offers, but I obviously had phone calls. My answer was that it was not going to happen for at least the next two seasons. The other chairmen respected that. Until the day I left, there were no offers."