Ronald Koeman: European football key to keeping players at Saints

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman won the Dutch league title as manager of both Ajax and PSV Eindhoven

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman believes European qualification will be crucial to keeping his top players this summer.

England internationals Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers, as well as Dejan Lovren, all left the Saints last year.

But Koeman, whose side is fourth in the Premier League, hopes playing in Europe will help avoid a similar talent drain.

The Dutchman said: "It will be maybe easier for us if we play in European cup football to keep the players."

Southampton were also hit last summer by the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham, while Lallana, Lambert and Lovren went to Liverpool.

Left-back Shaw, 19, joined Manchester United for £27m and fellow defender Chambers, 20, moved to Arsenal for around £16m.

Graziano Pelle
Striker Graziano Pelle has scored 12 goals for Southampton this season since signing from Feyenoord

Striker Jay Rodriguez has also been absent all season with a knee injury but Koeman, who joined Southampton last June after leaving Feyenoord, has successfully re-built the team.

Key signings Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have helped Southampton challenge for a Champions League place and Koeman hopes that challenge can be sustained to help him keep his squad together next season.

He said: "I know the situation. We are Southampton and if we are doing well there is always interest in our players. It is down to the success of the club, and it's good.

"I prefer this than to be on the bottom of the league and there is no interest in the players, because then we have to be afraid that we aren't good enough.

"I think these players would like to play in European cup football and that they would like to play Champions League football. That is always maybe an important reason for a player to stay or not to stay."

Southampton are away to manager-less QPR, who are second from bottom of the Premier League, on Saturday (kick-off 15:00 GMT).

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