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Optimism from Southampton's record-setting season in Premier League eroded by player exodus

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SOUTHAMPTON, England - The optimism from Southampton's record-setting campaign in the Premier League last season has drained away following the exodus of the club's best talent that will leave many fans fearing the worst.

Joining highly rated coach Mauricio Pochettino in leaving St. Mary's Stadium has been captain Adam Lallana, star striker Rickie Lambert and centre back Dejan Lovren (all to Liverpool) as well as young fullbacks Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers.

Almost 100 million pounds ($170 million) was recouped from those sales but the effect on squad morale could be costly.

There appears to be little chance of bettering last season's eighth-place finish, when Southampton earned 55 points — a best-ever haul in the top flight, but new coach Ronald Koeman sees no reason why it can't happen.

"We hope so because that's part of the philosophy," the former Netherlands sweeper said. "Last season was fantastic, but we want to continue. I keep to the philosophy of the club and that brings the success."

The philosophy of the club is to give opportunities to the conveyor belt of young talent Southampton manages to keep producing, and Koeman will do just that.

"We have a great academy at Southampton and we have good young players," he said. "I have great experience as a player, I can smell what happens on the pitch and in the dressing room. I will find my way in England."

Southampton has brought in some new faces, too, notably Serbia winger Dusan Tadic and Italian striker Graziano Pelle, who Koeman know well from their time in the Dutch league. They will have to adapt quickly if the Saints aren't to be dragged into a relegation fight.

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In: Dusan Tadic (FC Twente), Graziano Pelle (Feyenoord), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea on loan).

Out: Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Dani Osvaldo (Inter Milan).

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