• Calum Chambers signs for Arsenal in St Mary’s exodus
• Midfielder Schneiderlin is key part of Ronald Koeman’s plans
The remarkable summer exodus of talent from Southampton is set to continue with Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez close to a reunion with their former manager, Mauricio Pochettino, at Tottenham Hotspur in the wake of the sale of Calum Chambers to Arsenal.
The south coast club, then overseen by Pochettino, finished in eighth place last season yet Chambers, who has signed a long-term contract at the Emirates stadium, is the fifth key member of that team to be sold this summer for combined fees in excess of £90m.
The Southampton hierarchy, apparently with the blessing of the new manager, Ronald Koeman, has determined that any player who expresses a desire to leave will be allowed to exit St Mary’s for the right price though, at present, the first-team squad is increasingly appearing asset-stripped.
They had hoped to dissuade suitors from bidding for Schneiderlin, a player Koeman had considered vital to his approach, by demanding in excess of the £27m fee that took Luke Shaw to Manchester United earlier this summer. But the France midfielder has expressed a desire to rejoin Pochettino and, with talks ongoing over a compromise fee, he will be accompanied by Rodriguez despite the England striker still recovering from an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury that denied him a place at the World Cup.
The 24-year-old is back in light training and, with the player due to be fit again in October, it is understood personal terms have already been agreed in principle for a move to White Hart Lane.
Aside from Shaw and Chambers, Southampton have sold Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to Liverpool for a combined £49.5m this summer, with Dani Osvaldo expected to depart before the start of the season and José Fonte having attracted a £3m bid from Cardiff City.
The club’s executive director, Les Reed, admitted disappointment at Chambers’ departure for a fee that could eventually rise to £16m,but called for calm amid growing concern among supporters.
“We have an abundance of talent in the Academy coming through, and everybody at the club is continuing to work hard on bringing in quality new players as we build a team capable of taking us further forward in the coming seasons,” he said. “It is important in the transfer window to remain calm, resilient and above all patient. We have targets, and we are working hard to get them across the line.
“Calum made it clear to us that he did not see his future at Southampton. He went on to point to the opportunities that lie ahead for the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Sam Gallagher, Jack Stephens, Jordan Turnbull, Matt Targett and Sam McQueen next term, with Koean having only recruited Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle from Dutch football to date.
Chambers has been assured of significant opportunities in the Arsenal first team in the new season despite initially arriving as cover for another signing, the £10m Mathieu Debuchy, at right-back and also at centre-half.
Arsène Wenger is convinced the 19-year-old will eventually graduate more permanently into a central midfield berth at the Emirates. With Arsenal also set to compete in the Champions League, Chambers has been told he will play at least 20 senior matches this season.
The defender, who will wear No21, boasts only 23 first-team appearances, all but one accrued last season at St Mary’s when he started 18 Premier League games. Those fleeting glimpses of his talent persuaded Wenger that Chambers should be lured to London. “It was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” said Chambers. “To get the opportunity to work with (Wenger) will be amazing. He said that he sees me at right-back, centre-back, holding centre midfield.
“He sees me in a variety of different positions, which I like because then I can find out where I am best at and push myself as far as I can go in that position. I’m just excited to get started really.”
Chambers’ arrival will allow Carl Jenkinson to depart Arsenal in search of more first-team opportunities, with West Ham United and Hull City competing to sign a player capped once by England. Hull have bid £3m with the Londoners seeking nearer £5m for his signature, and the player himself thought to be keen to remain in the capital.