Saints have opened contract negotiations with Ronald Koeman, as they edge closer to appointing the Dutch legend as their new manager.

The 51-year-old is the club’s number-one target to succeed Mauricio Pochettino, after the Argentine left the club last month to join Tottenham Hotspur.

It is understood that Saints have made a firm contract offer within the past 24 hours, with the hope of finalising a deal next week.

Koeman is currently on holiday in Turkey, but is due to return home tomorrow, when he will continue discussions.

A deal has not yet been agreed, but there is a willingness on both sides for it to happen.

Saints first held talks with Koeman nearly two weeks ago and were understood to have been extremely impressed by the former Netherlands captain, who left Feyenoord this summer after three excellent seasons in Rotterdam.

The club have been keen to appoint a manager who, like Pochettino and his predecessor Nigel Adkins, encourages an attractive and attacking style of play, while also promoting young talent from the academy system.

Koeman’s work at Feyenoord – the leading scorers in the Dutch top-flight last season and a provider of a number of young players to the country’s World Cup squad – meant that he ticked those boxes.

The ex-Barcelona defender has also enjoyed spells with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven as a manager, while he has taken charge at other major European clubs, such as Valencia and Benfica.

If he is confirmed as manager, Koeman will have to appoint what would largely be a new backroom staff, with his assistant coaches at Feyenoord – Jean-Paul van Gastel and Giovanni van Bronckhorst – set to remain in Holland.

But Jan Kluitenberg, who was Koeman’s physical coach at Feyenoord, also left the club this summer and would be a potential addition.