Southampton have received fresh takeover interest from Spanish businessman and former Lille owner Gerard Lopez.
This is according to a report from France Football’s Philippe Auclair, who claims Lopez is willing to pay current Saints majority shareholder Gao Jisheng €125m to take control of the club.
Given that this figure is around half of what Gao paid for his 80% shareholding back in 2017, it is surely unlikely that a potential bid will be accepted unless a significantly higher sum is offered.
Lopez oversaw a largely successful spell at Lille but also actively looked to sell players for a profit – something that Saints need to do to keep competing but not at a rate that jeopardises the club’s position in the Premier League.
Southampton squad and assets interest Lopez
Via France Football’s report, we learn that Lopez is keen to throw his hat into the ring to take control at St Mary’s because of the current value of the squad.
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€260m is quoted in the article as the combined value of the players, and this is said to be “the main draw” for Lopez. Whilst some excellent signings were made during his time at Lille working with renowned Sporting Director Luis Campos, he oversaw large transfer profits in most cases and left the club with large loans against their name.
After battling through the Coronavirus pandemic and now looking to come out the other side as strong as possible, it will be difficult for Saints to find a deal that suits all parties.
They have lost many millions of pounds in income over the last 13 months and took out a £78.8m loan with MSD UK Holdings Ltd at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure their financial security, so they are unlikely to want any further significant liabilities from someone like Lopez.
Saints may well be forced to sell some players this coming summer due to ongoing contract issues but a period of consistent sales for profit is seemingly not the way the club wants to go. Sales will allow them to generate funds to reinvest and compete, but wholesale changes every season would be far too risky.