Saints boss Nicola Cortese today revealed he would not leave the club.

Just 24 hours after speculation was revealed that the executive chairman had been approached by a top Italian club, the 40-year-old has insisted he is going nowhere.

In an interview Mr Cortese described Saints as his "baby" which he talked multi-millionaire businessman Markus Liebherr into buying last summer.

The former banker said: "Ultimately Southampton, you know, I consider Southampton to be my baby. I'm not going to abandon my baby.

"I'm a friend of Markus, and I talked him into that if you want to say so, and he keeps on reminding me about it and he said at the time I would only do that if you will be on board.

It has not been revealed which Serie A club has apparently tried to lure Swiss-Italian Mr Cortese away from St Mary's.

He added: "So you know, this to me is, again, it could be tempting. I'm not driven by money, and people that work with me on a daily basis they know that."

Speculation surrounding the story was initially reported on BBC Radio Solent yesterday morning.

Mr Cortese's subsequent interview was broadcast on the same station, which has a commercial deal with the club, today.

Mr Cortese, has given interviews to Radio Solent recently.

In a statement on the club’s website the former banker said: “I heard the speculation yesterday morning, but knew that there were already rumours around in Italy, so it was not new to me.”

“I can confirm there was an approach from a top Italian team, not just now, that happened a few months back.”

“I am obviously flattered about the interest and flattered that it has come from a top, top team because I think this is a success, not just for me, but for Southampton Football Club, the supporters, my management team and our first team.

“It shows that what is happening here is attracting awareness, that is good for both our supporters and our partners and also good for attracting new partners.

“It shows that we are not just creating awareness locally, but nationally and it also seems internationally.

“My answer at the time when I had this approach was a simple one and I didn't have to think for even a second about it.

“The club, despite where they are and the success that they have had in the past in the Italian leagues cannot offer me anything that Southampton cannot achieve.

"I consider the approach to be a success for all the hard work we are putting in here, the results of what we do off the pitch are not always seen by the public, but this proves that what we are doing is right.

"I have a great team in place here behind me that helps me to operate the business.

“A week ago we had a staff meeting where I started my speech by explaining how proud I am to be here, and how happy I am with the foundation that we have created because the staff we have here are excellent staff.

“We started at the very beginning where things were very hard for me because I was heading in the right direction, but I was on my own.

“The staff were completely demoralised and were not used to carrying out responsibilities and I had to get them on track with me and to aim in the same direction.”

He added: “So you know, this to me is, again, it could be tempting. I'm not driven by money, and people that work with me on a daily basis they know that."

“A lot of people may not be aware of that, but ultimately I consider Southampton to be my baby, and I'm not going to abandon my baby.

When approached about the speculation surrounding Mr Cortese, who does not speak directly to the Daily Echo at present, a spokesman for Southampton Football Club refused to comment.