Player prices could go down after pandemic - Saints boss Hasenhuettl

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FILE PHOTO: Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg - Olympique de Marseille v RB Leipzig
FILE PHOTO: Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg - Olympique de Marseille v RB Leipzig

(Reuters) - The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could mean a decrease in market value of players when the transfer window reopens but Southampton is prepared for all eventualities, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said.

Professional soccer has been suspended indefinitely across Europe since last month but countries and leagues are now planning for a return to training and competition without fans in attendance in May or June when restrictions are relaxed.

With nine rounds left to be played in the Premier League, the season will spill over into June and possibly July, when the traditional off-season transfer window opens and the Austrian boss said the window could be shorter this year as a result.

"We are prepared, we know that it will be an interesting transfer window, maybe a shorter one," Hasenhuettl told the Daily Echo "The surroundings are also changing because the values for the players will go down I think.

"We can't say what impact this will have on the transfer market, but we are prepared for it and we have the time now to get in contact with everybody.

"The good thing is that we all know it will start again and that, step-by-step, we will come back to normality again. Therefore, you have to be prepared and to use this time now is absolutely helpful."

Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen said free agents will be coveted more during when the window opens as clubs look to rebound from the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward said clubs will not spend "hundreds of millions" on new signings but Hasenhuettl said clubs desperate for new recruits could spend more.

"You have to remember that the players we want to sell will also be worth less money. It has an impact on every club," the 52-year-old added.

"In the end, when the transfers are starting, and you have some issues, you will do everything to get the player you want. I don't see the prices dropping that far but the selection would be a more critical one and, therefore, you have to be prepared."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)