― Reuters picLONDON, March 13 ― Southampton's refusal to sell defender Virgil van Dijk in the close season had disrupted their Premier League campaign which ultimately led to manager Mauricio Pellegrino being sacked, former club captain Matt Le Tissier has said.
An abject display in a 3-0 defeat to relegation rivals Newcastle United proved the final straw, that result leaving the side with just one win in their last 17 Premier League games.
Hughes has been lined up to replace Mauricio Pellegrino, who was sacked by Southampton on Monday.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, Southampton are set to finalise the details that will see Mark Hughes become the club's new manager by Wednesday, while the report has also named two of the coaches that the former Stoke City boss is set to bring with him.
So, who are the frontrunners to take over Southampton?
The Argentine was relieved of his duties as manager after going 17 games with just one win.
"As you know, my period in Southampton has finished".
In a statement posted on Southampton's official website, Pellegrino addressed the club's fans, saying: "From the beginning I tried to do my best every single day, I tried to give back to the club and tried to represent the club with pride".
"Some moments we managed this, some moments we couldn't, but we have been living a hard season for many reasons".
The Frenchman had guided the Saints to the league cup final (their first appearance in a final for 14 years) and eighth place in the Premier League, not a bad balance sheet after one season in charge.
The south-coast club chose to act two days after losing at Newcastle 3-0, after which Pellegrino said some of his players "gave up".