Southampton have confirmed that former Nice manager Claude Puel will replace Ronald Koeman as manager, having signed a three-year contract with the Premier League side, and he will take charge of the club’s pre-season programme from Friday.
A statement released by the club on Thursday afternoon read: “Southampton Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Claude Puel as its new First Team Manager.
“The 54 year-old, who has agreed a three-year contract with Saints, takes charge ahead of the first team’s return to training on 1st July.
“The appointment of Puel follows an extensive search for the right manager to continue the club’s progression in recent years.
“Puel will be joined at Southampton by Eric Black, who has been appointed Assistant First Team Manager, and Pascal Plancque, who will become the club’s First Team Assistant Coach.”
Koeman’s assistant manager, Sammy Lee, has left the Saints, with the club keen to stress its thanks to the 57-year-old Liverpudlian for his time at the club.
Southampton Executive Director of Football Les Reed said: “The process to appoint a new First Team Manager has been diligent and meticulous. In order to ensure we appointed a manager who would meet our needs as a club, feedback from the dressing room, as well as taking account of our culture, vision and values, was critical in drawing up our criteria for the appointment.
“As the process eliminated a number of excellent candidates, Claude clearly came out on top of a very impressive shortlist. We have not only got the best man, but the right coaching team to support him.
“Eric Black has an excellent pedigree as a coach and vast experience domestically and internationally. Pascal Plancque has an excellent record as a technical coach and, like Claude, has been responsible for developing many young French talents into top quality players.
“The development of our young Academy players and delivering a pathway to the first team is key to the role. We were keen to appoint a coaching team who would also work closely with Martin Hunter and Radhi Jaïdi in accelerating the development of our youngsters, as well as developing our current first-team squad as individuals and as a team.
“We have an excellent group of first-team players who are keen to take another step forward. There is already a confidence and excitement in the building as some of the squad has returned for testing and they are in great shape.
“Claude has a fantastic platform to work from and is aware that our ambition is to repeat and improve on our performances in the Premier League over the past three seasons.
“Claude has a track record of improving the situations he has been presented with and we are confident he can repeat this at Southampton.
“His Champions League and European experience will be valuable in our Europa League challenge this coming season and with the support of our excellent staff at the club I am sure he will do well.
“We are once again excited about what the new season will bring, and we will continue to chase records as we have done in recent years.”
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