Claude Puel: Taking Southampton job is not a risk

Claude Puel
Puel won Ligue 1 with Monaco in the 1999-2000 season, his first in charge of the club

New Southampton manager Claude Puel says he has left coaching in France for "the best league in the world".

Puel was appointed Saints manager in June following Ronald Koeman's departure to Everton.

The 54-year-old has had spells with several Ligue 1 clubs in his native country, including Monaco, Lyon and Lille.

"It was important for me to work in another championship and another competition," he told BBC Sport.

Puel sees his first venture across the English Channel as an opportunity to relish.

"It's important to know the Premier League and I'm used to working with different players, so I don't see it as a problem," he told BBC Radio Solent.

Puel has kept a low profile with the media since his arrival on 30 June, but business has quietly continued over the summer.

As well as early summer recruit Nathan Redmond from Norwich, new signings have included Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich and right-back Jeremy Pied, formerly with Puel at Nice.

Europa League group stage qualification is already secured for the side which finished sixth last season.

"I think I have good players in the squad with good energy and spirit," Puel replied when asked how he has assessed their pre-season performance.

"The players are generous, conscientious and they listen. I think they like to play and make progress and improve.

"It's important to give them opportunities to counter-attack but also to control the game and keep a good energy."

Southampton fans will get their first opportunity to see Puel's philosophy in action at St Mary's when they face Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao in their final two pre-season friendlies.

Puel's competitive bow as Saints manager comes on 13 August in the home Premier League opener against Watford.

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