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May 11, 2014

Saints worry that Shaw to United could signal an exodus

After a season of mixed fortunes for both Southampton and Manchester United, you wonder what state the two teams will be in when they meet next time.

It would have been unthinkable a year ago that Saints and United would play out two evenly matched 1-1 draws and finish just one place apart in the Premier League table. The emergence of the likes of Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, coupled with United's travails under David Moyes, ensured such a dream has become a reality. However, dark clouds are looming.

Shaw could be heading to Old Trafford after United submitted a 27 million pound bid for the World Cup-bound left back within hours of Sunday's 1-1 draw at St Mary's and if Liverpool get their way, the England starlet may not be the only exit.

- Transfer Talk: United line up Shaw - Usher: Liverpool should go for Saints stars

Brendan Rodgers wants Lallana at Liverpool and is expected to make a 20 million pound bid this week, with the summer starting off on a worrying note for Southampton supporters.

The club has reinvented itself three times since they were bought out by Markus Liebherr and the five-year project is officially at an end. From rock bottom in League One to eighth in the Premier League would certainly see that project deemed a success but I can't help thinking this will be a testing summer for the supporters and the next objective may be consolidation, not progression.

Such a situation may not appeal to manager Mauricio Pochettino and it will be fascinating to see what he makes of events on the south coast. He has been linked with the Tottenham job if Tim Sherwood, as expected, leaves his post.

If the worst happens and Pochettino decides that the club's ambitions do not match his own, the next managerial appointment could be crucial. The potential loss of Shaw and Lallana could be fruitful financially but will that money be reinvested in the playing squad? Luckily, the club's famed youth academy is the envy of the Premier League with the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all starting out at Saints before securing big-money moves away. The current crop are just as capable of developing at such a rate.

With United ready to flex their financial muscles this summer following a disastrous season, the fear is that they could be the first to take their pick of Southampton's carefully cultivated stars.