England manager Roy Hodgson believes Champions League football means Saints are virtually powerless to stop their top players leaving.
Talking after Rickie Lambert’s shock move to Liverpool, who are also closing in on a deal for Adam Lallana, Hodgson said: “Good players are always going to gravitate to the big clubs.
“That’s where Champions League football is. That’s where the wealth is.”
He added: It’s a pity for Southampton – they’ve been terrific this year. But unfortunately there are always big fish in the sea and it’s hard to keep those fish away.”