IT was the milestone that Rickie Lambert might never have reached. Stuck on 99 career league goals for Saints after scoring at Cardiff on Boxing Day, Lambert was close to leaving St Mary's last month.

While Nicola Cortese remained in charge at the club, there was a very real chance that the talismanic No 9 could have joined West Ham during the transfer window.

The chance of a switch to Upton Park only collapsed on the dramatic day that Cortese left Saints.

The chairman's sensational departure paved the way for Lambert to stay, and ultimately still be around to score his 100th league goal of an amazing Saints career at Craven Cottage.

Football is full of ifs, buts and maybes, and nowhere more so than at Saints.

Perhaps that should be ifs, butts and maybes!

What would have happened had Lambert been sold to West Ham and Dani Osvaldo then had his training ground altercation with Jose Fonte's face?

Would Osvaldo still have been suspended, knowing that Sam Gallagher was the only remaining frontline striker still at the club and likely to play first team football?

Would Cortese have suspended his record buy, in the same way that Saints were quick to?

Impossible to say, but still interesting to ponder nonetheless.

Osvaldo's time at Saints looks over, but the same cannot be said of the incredible Lambert.

He turns 32 later this month, and how long he can continue to play a major role for Saints in the Premier League remains a good question to pose.

But Lambert has always answered any questions asked of him during his phenomenal time on the south coast, and who is to say he cannot carry on confounding his critics.

One hundred league goals for any club is a great achievement, and Lambert has done it at Saints in four and a half years.

He has done it in the third division, the second tier and the Premier League.

In time, when the 150th anniversary of Saints is written, he will take his place in the pantheon of legends including Terry Paine, Ron Davies, Mick Channon and Matt Le Tissier.

He might not go on to score as many goals as those aforementioned players, but his place in Saints’ history is assured.

I'm glad Lambert did not join West Ham last month.

To leave on 99 league goals for the club would have left unfinished business.

As it is, Rickie Lambert has now written another glorious chapter in his Southampton FC story.

What next for the man who spent his entire career in the unfashionable surroundings of the lower divisions prior to joining Saints?

What other chapters are there left to write?