Claude Puel
Puel has replaced Koeman at St Mary's. Getty

Another summer, another Southampton clear-out: once again the south-coast club has seen a close-season exodus of major stars, with the departures of Sadio Mane to Liverpool, Victor Wanyama to Tottenham and Graziano Pelle to China. More worryingly, manager Ronald Koeman has also left to take over Everton while new boss Claude Puel has been handed little of the money raised from the sales to overhaul his weakened squad.

With Gaston Ramirez and Spanish flop Juanmi also leaving, the squad is still one down on last season, with four arrivals in the shape of Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Alex McCarthy and Jeremy Pied, who played under Puel at both Lyon and Nice.

Former Norwich winger Redmond, 22, looks a promising gamble for the future but is uncertain to fill the gap left by Mane, who scored 15 goals last term before joining the Reds in a £34m deal.

Twenty-year-old Hojbjerg is also a highly rated starlet but, again, it could be too soon for him to take Wanyama's leading role in the middle of the park. It looks like it's time for Charlie Austin to justify his January arrival from QPR to lead the attack by finding the form he showed at Loftus Road.

Last season

Premier League: 6th

FA Cup: third round

League Cup: fifth round

Europa League: play-off round

Top Scorer: Sadio Mane (15)

Manager – Claude Puel

The Frenchman has big boots to fill at St Mary's Stadium, with both Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino exceeding expectations in their time there. But the 54-year-old has indicated during a productive career in Ligue 1 with Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice that he is up to the task.

He won Ligue 1 in his first full season at Monaco in 2000, where he'd had a successful spell as a defensive midfielder. He spent six years at Lille before taking over Lyon, leading them to the Champions League semi-final in 2010. His most recent role, at Nice, was also a promising one both for his offensive style and his reputation for fostering new talent.

Key player – José Fonte

Jose Fonte
Fonte remains the leader of the Southampton back-line Getty

There has been much talk about Sadio Mane, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren or Morgan Schneiderlin in recent seasons, but the Euro 2016 winner Fonte has also been instrumental in their success.

The 32-year-old centre-back joined from Crystal Palace in 2010 and has helped the Saints go all the way from the League One to the Premier League. And rather than being out of his depth in the top flight, he has peaked, being arguably one of the best centre-backs anywhere in the last two campaigns. Manchester United and Koeman's new side Everton have been linked with him in the transfer window, but Southampton must resist letting him follow Mane and co out the door.

Expectations

For the third successive year Southampton's best players have left, leaving behind a big question mark about whether the club can cope without them – especially as they haven't spent much.

IBT prediction – 11th

Considering the unpromising transfer window, the arrival of a new boss with no Premier League experience and a busy campaign with Europa League football ahead, it's hard to see them replicating the success of the last three campaigns, each of which ended with top-10 placings.