IT’S been a long time coming, but Nicola Cortese has finally broken his silence after leaving St Mary’s in a blizzard of headlines back in mid January.

The former executive chairman has given his first interview since his eventful four and half year reign at Saints ended with owner Katharina Liebherr accepting his resignation.

In his interview, Cortese virtually said that none of Saints’ prize assets would have been sold this summer if he had still been chairman.

“I didn't have written offers, but I obviously had phone calls,” he said of interest in Saints players during his reign.

“My answer was that it was not going to happen for at least the next two seasons.

“The other chairmen respected that. Until the day I left, there were no offers.

“I was confident about plenty of conversations I had with the players.

“I knew the players themselves wanted to stick together because this vision was something they believed in too.”

If we believe his version of events, that means Manchester United and Liverpool would NOT have put in bids for Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.

Is that really likely?

Are we to believe Cortese’s presence at St Mary’s would have forced United, for example, to look elsewhere to replace Patrice Evra?

It is impossible to say, because that situation will never happen.

Cortese can safely speak from a distance because if Shaw and Lallana are sold, it won’t be under his watch.

We will never know whether Saints’ squad would all have gladly stayed if Cortese was still there.

It’s totally hypothetical to guess.

Talking about the prospect of home-grown players like Shaw and Lallana leaving, he added: “You don’t produce them just to sell, otherwise you give away your ambition.”

That is true, but Cortese conveniently forgets to mention the fact Saints sold Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Arsenal during his time at St Mary’s.

The transfer took place because the player wanted to go and a club were willing to pay Saints’ asking price.

The same will happen with Shaw and Lallana.

They will either want to stay at Saints, or they will angle to leave.

If it is the latter, then all the club can do is try to negotiate the best possible price.

Cortese did that when selling Chamberlain. £12m for a then third division player was a fine piece of business.

Say what you want about Cortese, but he was ruthless in business.

We have to hope the same applies to those that have replaced him in the corridors of power at St Mary’s.

If Shaw and Lallana want to leave – and we have yet to hear them say that – then all Saints can do is try and get as much cash for them as possible.

Fans might forgive Saints for selling if the players genuinely want to go, but they won’t forgive if they sell for a perceived ‘cheap’ price.

And certainly prior to a World Cup which could force the players’ price tags to rise astronomically.