Morgan Schneiderlin has explained the sequence of events that led to him looking to leave Southampton, before eventually staying on.
Having helped to turn the south coast outfit into a top-half Premier League side and earned international recognition with France that took him to the World Cup finals, the highly-rated midfielder admits to having seriously considered his future.
Exit seeds had been sown prior to the summer, before a mass exodus of top talent helped to convince the 24-year-old that the time was right to move on.
Of course I was angry. I thought: ‘I just played in the World Cup after two good seasons in the Premier League. I never say anything, but I can’t stay in a team that plays for survival. I need to reach a new level’.
Southampton, though, stood their ground and made it clear that no further sales would be sanctioned.
Schneiderlin was initially disappointed, leading to him airing his anger in public via Twitter, but he now appreciates the club’s stance and is happy to be part of a squad that has made an impressive start to life under Ronald Koeman.
He told France Football: “Was the meeting with Southampton officials on July 29 tense? Yes.
“In the months building up to it, there was interest from clubs – three clubs and Tottenham were among them.
“Since February/March, my agents and I had talked with Southampton about a possible departure. The club always told me they would sell for the right price.
“My agents and I went to that meeting on July 29 in a peaceful state of mind, with exciting propositions. To me, with my six years at Southampton and everything I had given to the club, everything should have been sorted that day.
“I told them I signed for a project that was supposed to keep the best elements in order to go higher. Before that meeting, (Adam) Lallana, (Dejan) Lovren, (Rickie) Lambert, Luke Shaw and (Calum) Chambers all left. I said to myself: ‘This is not the same situation, this is not possible. What are they doing?’ At that moment, Southampton hadn’t signed anyone.
“Chambers signed for Arsenal the day before our meeting and the club saw the fans getting mad. They thought: ‘If Morgan leaves the stadium will be burnt’. So they told us: ‘Morgan is not for sale, we won’t listen to anything. That is the decision and there is nothing more to say’.
“It was a real shock to me. Of course I was angry. I thought: ‘I just played in the World Cup after two good seasons in the Premier League. I never say anything, but I can’t stay in a team that plays for survival. I need to reach a new level’. So I told them: ‘You don’t respect me and you don’t respect your words, you treat me like cattle’. They defended their interests and I defended mine.
“After I refused to play the friendly against Leverkusen on August 9, the chairman came to speak to me and let me have the weekend to think about things.
“I talked to a lot of people. Some told me to go on strike, that the club will finally give up. My agents never said that, they just told me to make a decision.
“I felt that the officials wouldn’t let me leave, that they would rather leave me on the sidelines for six months. So I resumed training because I really needed to play football again.
“I played against Liverpool at Anfield and all the Southampton fans applauded me and chanted my name. It was so heart-warming. I knew then I would spend the whole season at Southampton.
“Maybe now we will achieve something amazing here. Champions League qualification would be fantastic. I hope to play in the Champions League one day, of course. I want to play every three days. But why not play in the Champions League with Southampton?”