Southampton manager Ronald Koeman is determined to avoid losing any of his key players this summer.
Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Calum Chambers have all left St Mary’s in recent years.
Defender Jose Fonte recently urged the club not to sell their strongest players but Koeman accepts it is a difficult balancing act.
He said: “Yes [I don’t want to sell players] but if it is realistic, I don’t know, but of course you like to keep everybody, you like to keep the best players and to have a more stronger team for next season than we do already this season.
“But it is all about interesting players and money and okay we know we are Southampton, it is difficult to compete against the big ones but of course we would like to keep the players in the club.
“Sometimes it is good to have some changes in the squad or sell some players because then it means you can maybe have a stronger squad than before but it is difficult if you lose every season one, two, three of your best players and then it is difficult but we are Southampton, we know we need to be realistic and we like to do our best.
“It is a big achievement for everybody that still we are fighting for Europe because that is what we wanted, our ambition at the beginning of the season.”
Koeman, who joined Saints in June 2014, has just over a year remaining on his contract and rumours have been circulating about his future.
The Dutchman has been keeping quiet about the subject over the past few months but has now admitted he will be talking to executive director Les Reed once the season has finished.
Koeman said: “I had a short talk with Les Reed about the future and I said ‘Let’s have a coffee and a talk after the Crystal Palace game [the last game of the season].
“After the season it is normal to talk about this season and everyone knows I have one year left on my contract.
“We will see what he tells me. It is not about today, let’s first finish the season in a good way and then we have time to talk about the future.”