Ralph Hasenhuttl has insisted “life will go on” if Danny Ings leaves Southampton for a bigger club this summer because the Saints cannot afford his contract demands.
Negotiations continue with the England striker who is out of contract in June 2022.
But despite expressing optimism about agreeing a new deal last month after the Saints made a “fantastic offer”, Hasenhuttl has now warned that the economic crisis could mean the club’s topscorer leaves St Mary’s.
“We are in a situation where every club is struggling with finances,” said the Austrian.
“We as a club must be strong to keep our limits at what we have financially. We are not gambling or playing a game here.
“We are trying to keep the club in a healthy way and it is not only about Ingsy, there are others who also want to extend their contract.
“If it is not what we expect to pay in the future, then we have to look for somebody else who is cheaper, but we know it always should be win-win for both.
“If they want to make the next step in the summer to a bigger club and there is an offer fitting to the player, then we can always negotiate.
“We know we are not the end of the ranking or the top of the ranking, but in the end, we have a good core who are committed. Every player is invited to do it within our limits.
“I think Danny shows us that he wants to be with the club, we know that he is an important player for us.
“I hope that we find an agreement and finally he stays with us.
“If not, life will go on and this club will also exist and hopefully we can find a way that we can both live with.”
Ings is not yet ready to return to the squad for Tuesday’s re-scheduled FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Will Smallbone is also out of the rest of the reason and Hasenhuttl said he will call on academy players against the League One side.
“I don’t expect that we go in and play like the best team in the world,” he said.
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