​Manuel Pellegrini has emerged as the shock front-runner to replace Ronald Koeman as Southampton boss, ​Mirror Sport report. 


After Mauricio Pochettino was snapped up by Tottenham, the Saints were wary of losing another coach to a Premier League rival.


The club's hierarchy have been desperately battling to keep hold of Koeman in recent weeks but he is now on the brink of becoming Everton's latest manager.

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League

The Dutchman will be handed a three-year-deal worth £21m and the Toffees will have to splash out around £3m in compensation.


Southampton want to secure a replacement quickly and they have identified Pellegrini as their top target.


The Argentine's contract with Manchester City expires at the end of the month and he has publically expressed his desire to remain in England.

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The veteran coach was interested in landing the Everton job before he was pipped to the post by Koeman and the Saints are now eager to get him on board. 


Pellegrini, who has received lucrative offers from China, won the Premier League in his maiden campaign with City and he steered them to Capital One Cup glory twice.


However, his task on the South-Coast would be to clinch a Europa League spot and he would have to do it without spending vast sums of money.


The St. Mary's faithful will be left devastated at the news that Koeman will leave the club after a successful two year spell, but it appears the prospect of moulding Everton into a top-four team proved too tempting.