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Who is Claude Puel? Southampton's new manager in profile

Claude Puel:

Southampton have got their man, with Claude Puel taking the helm at the South Coast club to replace the departed Ronald Koeman.

Puel could find those to be big shoes to fill.

Koeman followed on the terrific work of Mauricio Pochettino at the club and has developed a team who are far more than the sum of their parts, capable of playing solid defensive football while also attacking in style.

Last season's sixth-place finish will be a tough act to follow for Puel, but he achieved a similar feat with little-fancied Nice in Ligue 1 and topped an extensive list of candidates, according to his new club.

But who exactly is the Frenchman and what will he add to Southampton?

Head of football Les Reed, Claude Puel, and executive officer Gareth Rogers Southampton FC (mandatory picture of Southampton FC)
Image: Southampton's new manager Puel has a tough act to follow in Ronald Koeman (picture courtesy of Southampton FC)


Puel, 54, started his management career in spectacular fashion, winning the Ligue 1 title with Monaco in his first full season as a first-team coach.

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The defensive midfielder had spent his entire playing career at Monaco, where he made almost 500 appearances and won two league championships before making the move into management.

He followed up his efforts in the principality with a six-year spell at Lille, where he developed a reputation for developing young players in an attractive style.

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Former Southampton striker Matt Le Tissier has called on fans to support the club's decision to appoint Puel

A mixed three years at Lyon followed. Puel led the French club to the Champions League semi-finals, but he also oversaw a title-race collapse in the final weeks of the season as the side who had dominated Ligue 1 for half a decade slipped to third.

The new Saints manager has spent the past four years at Nice, where he reinvigorated a young squad and steered the club into the Europa League proper for the first time in almost 40 years.


Southampton fans can look forward to attacking yet pragmatic football from their new manager.

Puel told the club website that he likes his teams to keep the ball and make the most of possession, while he also plays a similar style to former manager Koeman in terms of a double pivot at the base of midfield.

Puel loves entertaining football but is also realistic.
Erik Bielderman - L'Equipe's chief football writer

In short, Puel fits the bill of what Southampton look for in a manager.

His exploits in France, particularly at Lille and Nice, highlighted an ability to develop young players and build a team capable of beating those with greater financial resources.

"There is one word to describe him: builder," French journalist Maxime Dupuis said. "This guy is perfect to build something with young players. For the academy of Southampton, it's good news."

Puel also had a rich coaching upbringing, playing some of his final years under Arsene Wenger and taking some lessons from Jean Tigana before his own managerial bow.


Lyon's coach Claude Puel ( L) congratulates forward Karim Benzema
Image: A disappointing league campaign at Lyon was the low point of Puel's career

The doubters will point to Puel's failure at Lyon as a lack of winning experience, and will also highlight the impact of other previous Lyon managers as a warning sign - Remi Garde and Jacques Santini both came to England after managing the French club.

And Puel is hardly knowledgeable of English football. He's never played or managed outside of France, while most of his managerial career has been spent on the Mediterranean coast.

He's lost key holding midfielder Victor Wanyama too, which will not help a manager who likes to create a solid platform in midfield on which to build his teams.

Who he could bring with him

Hatem Ben Arfa applauds the fans after Nice's victory over Reims
Image: Hatem Ben Arfa is highly unlikely to be following his former boss to Southampton

Hatem Ben Arfa was the standout player for Nice last season, but his feats mean that he may well be out of Southampton's reach.

Nice are facing a mass exodus and it would be little surprise to see Puel dip into the squad to bring in their talented midfield duo of Nampalys Mendy and Mahamane Traore. Mendy is a particularly promising player, although Leicester City are reportedly interested in the 24-year-old.

But it's Southampton's young players who should be relishing the arrival of Puel, with recent signing Nathan Redmond also perfectly fitting what the Frenchman likes in a wide man.

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