Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl believes the impending departure of head of senior recruitment Joe Shields to Chelsea is “not a big loss for the club.”
Shields only arrived at St Mary’s in June after spending nine years at Manchester City as their head of youth recruitment.
However, recent reports claim that the 35-year-old has been approached by Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and he has agreed to move to Stamford Bridge less than four months after joining the Saints.
Both Southampton and Man City have allegedly been left ‘angered’ by Shields’s decision to swap the South Coast for West London, with the latter ‘not amused’ to see their former chief joining a Premier League rivals.
Shields was highly regarded at the Etihad Stadium and helped discover a plethora of top young players including Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Romeo Lavia, the latter of whom joined Southampton on a permanent deal over the summer.
Southampton signed 11 players in total in the most recent transfer window, spending around £60m, but Hasenhuttl has played down Shields’s impact since arriving at the club.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game with West Ham United, Hasenhuttl said: “As clear as I can see he came in August and is leaving in October, for us it absolutely not the perfect situation.
“For him, I don’t know. Sometimes people get driven by new chances and we see this here as more of a long-term project and if someone wants to leave in the short term, maybe he has his reasons to do this.
“It is not a big loss for this club I think because his impact in six weeks was not the biggest so we are not in the situation where we fall into depression.”
The Austrian boss added: “As I told you he came in August and nearly all transfers had been done in this moment, he was not the person who brought in Romeo (Lavia) for example.
“For us we would like to have people here longer for sure, but if he decides not to be here for longer it’s better he leaves immediately.”
It is understood that that Shields is yet to finalise personal terms with Chelsea, but should he agree a move to the Blues he would have to wait until Easter of next year to begin his new job as he would be required to serve a period of gardening leave.
Since the arrival of Boehly at Chelsea, widespread changes have been made to the club’s hierarchy as part of a rebuild by the American owner and his consortium.
Boehly is still searching for a new sporting director after failing to lure Red Bull Salzburg’s Christoph Freund to Stamford Bridge.
Former Liverpool chief Michael Edwards is believed to be high on Boehly’s list of targets along with Leeds United sporting director Victor Orta.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are on the verge of appointing Christopher Vivell as their new technical director after the 35-year-old left RB Leipzig last week.