Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said he will need more players next season as the Premier League soccer club is on the brink of qualifying for European competition.
The team, which lost players including England internationals Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert during last summer’s transfer window, is having one of its best seasons in the Premier League, soccer’s richest competition.
Owned by Swiss billionaire Katharina Liebherr, the club is currently in sixth place, which will guarantee entry into the second-tier Europa League. A top-four finish would mean qualification for the more lucrative Champions League. Southampton play Everton away on Saturday.
“Playing in Europe is more difficult and more tough, compared to when you only have to focus on the Premier League,” former Holland and Barcelona player Koeman said in an interview today with a small group of reporters at Southampton’s training ground.
To make sure performance in the Premier League doesn’t suffer, Koeman said he needs “more numbers, more experienced players,” who can handle two different competitions. He said he may lose some of his best players, but that “we will do everything to keep everyone at the club.”
Some of Southampton’s young members have also started representing their own countries, Koeman said. “If you then also play in Europe, that’s a tough program.”
The Europa League is more difficult than the Champions League because Thursday games mean players may have to travel on Friday and then compete in the Premier League over the weekend, Koeman said. Champions League games are played on Tuesday or Wednesday.