Southampton have dealt title chasers Chelsea a significant blow in their hopes of signing in-form full-back Luke Shaw after chairman Katharina Liebherr released a statement on Southampton’s website quelling speculation that players will be allowed to leave St Mary’s in the January transfer window:
The Club has no plans to sell any of the squad during the January transfer window. The manager and the team have my full support.
Chelsea were interested in Luke Shaw, reported Jeremy Wilson and Jason Burt of the Telegraph, who they say is valued at £20 million.
An exodus was expected at St Mary’s after the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese on Wednesday, throwing the club into a "crisis," described Charles Perrin of the Express.
But Liebherr’s statement will bring relief to Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino after he was described as being “in shock," per Wilson and Burt.
In Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Pochettino also reiterated Liebherr’s statement that Southampton were not a selling club:
I want to make something very clear. No one is for sale at Southampton. No one. My belief has not changed from a week ago. No player that I don’t want to leave will leave this club.
Chelsea were interested in Shaw as a long-term replacement for Ashley Cole, reported the Telegraph's Mark Ogden. The England international has seen his normally guaranteed place as Chelsea's left-back diminish this season.
Jose Mourinho has preferred playing Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta in Cole’s position, but a long-term replacement for the former Arsenal man, like Shaw, has been targeted.
According to The Metro, Mourinho has been given the "green light" on a £30 million move for the future England left-back.
Cole was dropped in December when Chelsea played Arsenal at the Emirates when the England left-back was pictured attending the Gunners’ Christmas party just days before the match, reported Gerry Cox of the Telegraph.
Mourinho claimed that Azpilicueta was playing better than Cole at the time and deserved to be in the team, reported David Woods of the Daily Star, before the 0-0 draw at the Emirates:
In this moment, Azpi’s playing better. He is showing me he’s physically better, very strong. I don’t remember one defensive positional mistake from Azpi.
Cole has also played 13 league games this season and has been an unused substitute 11 times already, ESPN stats show.
Since returning to the Bridge, Mourinho has been looking to implement his own identity over Chelsea in his second tenure at the club. The potential signing of the likes of Shaw is all part of the Portuguese manager's long-term plans to make Chelsea a competitive force in the Premier League and Europe.
This week, the Blues announced the arrival of Nemanja Matic from Benfica, which will see a changing of the guard in midfield as Frank Lampard will be given less opportunities with the Serbian's arrival.
The Blues won't be the only club alerted by the statement from Liebherr. Manchester United manager David Moyes identified the 18-year-old full-back as a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra, per Ogden.