Southampton have confirmed the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino as their new manager. The Argentine has signed a three-year deal at St Mary's to succeed Claude Puel, who was sacked earlier this month after just one season in charge despite leading the Saints to an eight-place berth in the Premier League and the EFL Cup final.
Former Barcelona and Liverpool defender Pellegrino, who served as assistant to Rafael Benitez at both Anfield and Inter Milan, had been without a club since ending his one-year stint with Alaves in May following their 3-1 Copa del Rey final defeat to Barca. He guided the Basque side to an impressive top-half finish in their first season back in La Liga.
"I am really happy to become the new coach of Southampton Football Club," Pellegrino said. "The club has a great reputation for having a strong and stable structure, competing in the Premier League and playing attractive football.
"I think my philosophy and the culture of the club will work well together. We have to be a team on and off the pitch; I want to make the supporters proud of the players and to feel part of the game every week.
"I want to win matches, be successful and develop a team spirit where everyone gives 100 per cent and supports each other. I am excited and passionate about what the future holds for us and look forward to meeting the players and beginning our preparation for the new season."
Pellegrino, an ex-Argentina international who spent a brief spell in charge of Valencia in 2012 and has also previously managed both Estudiantes and Independiente in his homeland, was linked with Sevilla following Jorge Sampaoli's decision to take over La Albiceleste. However, they eventually opted to lure Eduardo Berizzo from Celta Vigo.
Pellegrino was also on the shortlist of candidates to replace Sam Allardyce at Crystal Palace, although it appears that Frank de Boer has now won that particular race. The Dutchman, as it happens, was also being coveted by Southampton.
Saints vice-chairman Les Reed said that Pellegrino "impressed us throughout with his depth of knowledge, motivation and ability, communicating this in a professional and passionate way". He also claimed that the 45-year-old has an "excellent understanding of the Southampton way, and his style of play and aspiration matches the philosophy, culture and ambition of the club."
Pellegrino is Southampton's fourth manager in just over three years, with Puel's exit coming after Ronald Koeman's defection to Everton and Mauricio Pochettino's move to Tottenham Hotspur. He takes ownership of a team that won only one of their last eight top-flight matches in 2016-17 and scored just one goal in six games amid complaints over a dull style of play, lack of incisive edge and constant personnel rotation.