Southampton have confirmed the appointment of Frenchman Claude Puel as their new manager.
The 54-year-old former Monaco and Nice boss has signed a three-year deal at St Mary’s, succeeding Ronald Koeman who left for Everton earlier this summer.
Former Aston Villa coach Eric Black has been named as Puel’s assistant, with Pascal Plancque also joining Puel’s backroom staff. Meanwhile, Southampton have agreed a deal to retain Dave Watson among the coaching set-up, however Sammy Lee has left the top-flight club.
A statement on the Premier League club’s official website stated Puel’s appointment was made following “an extensive search for the right manager to continue the club’s progression in recent years”.
Koeman had steered the Saints to a highest ever Premier League finish of sixth place last season, and the club will be hoping new boss Puel can continue their recent upward curve after guiding Nice to fourth in Ligue 1.
Executive Director of Football Les Reed said: “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.
“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.
“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 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.
“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.”
Puel made more than 500 appearances for Monaco before turning to management in 1999 after 17 seasons on the club’s playing staff.
Six seasons with Lille followed after he had led Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in 2000, while Puel also enjoyed a spell at Lyon in 2008 before four years in charge of Nice.
The experienced Frenchman must now quickly reshape Saints’ squad to his satisfaction, after the departures of highly-prized pair Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama this summer.
Saints have already brought in Nathan Redmond to offset the loss of Mane to Liverpool, but Puel could well seek a holding midfielder to replace Tottenham capture Wanyama.