Ronald Koeman was excited about the potential of Saphir Taider after seeing the Inter Milan loan star shine as a late sub as Saints lost their final pre-season friendly 1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen.

In a game of few chances, it was Graziano Pelle’s unfortunate own goal on 57 minutes that proved to be the difference between the sides at St Mary’s.

But it was the introduction of Taider and Gaston Ramirez in the second period that brought Saints to life and helped lift the side, albeit they were unable to find an equaliser.

“I was happy with the performance of Taider in the second half because he brought with him a new ambition in the team and that was very good,” said Koeman.

“(We want) to have a squad which is big enough in quality to have a tough season.”

Taider came on in an advanced role, but was later dropped deeper.

Koeman admitted he has yet to decide where to play him in the long run.

“He can play in a controlled position and he can play a little bit more up,” reflected the Saints boss.

“When he came on in the second half he had good movement forwards and he showed his talents. I was happy about that.”

The defeat was Saints’ first in pre-season after previously notching five back-to-back victories.

Koeman confessed a bit of intensity was missing, with it being a friendly game, but was generally upbeat about his side’s display ahead of their Premier League opener against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

“In general yes, it was a good match on a good level against a good Champions League opponent, Leverkusen,” reflected Koeman.

“We didn’t deserve to lose and the goal they scored was very lucky for them and very unlucky for us.

“In the first 45 minutes we had the better chances to score but in some moments in the match we have to know that we have to play quicker, that we have to be more aggressive and the last 15-20 per cent in a good way prepared for the next week.

“We know we have to do better than we did today.”

“It’s always bad to lose but the result was not the most important, but it’s always better to win than to lose.

“It will be different (at Anfield) because then we play for points and this time not.

“Normally we will be more aggressive and I spoke to the team after the match said ‘OK, we missed maybe 10-15 per cent and maybe that’s friendly football. We will have it next week and we need it next week.’”