Claude Puel has been appointed as the new manager of Southampton on a three-year contract, the Premier League club have announced.
The 54 year-old, who has agreed a three-year contract with Saints, takes charge ahead of the first team’s return to training on 1st July.
The appointment of Puel follows an extensive search for the right manager to continue the club’s progression in recent years.
Puel will be joined at Southampton by Eric Black, who has been appointed Assistant First Team Manager, and Pascal Plancque, who will become the club’s First Team Assistant Coach.
Dave Watson has signed a new deal with the club to remain as part of Puel’s backroom staff, while Sammy Lee has departed. The club would like to thank Sammy for his efforts during his time at St Mary’s.
Frenchman Puel makes the switch to the Premier League following a successful spell with OGC Nice in France, in which he guided Les Aiglons to a fourth-placed finish last season in Ligue 1.
Puel, who spent his entire playing career with Monaco, making over 500 appearances in all competitions, moved into management with the club he had been with for 17 seasons as a player in 1999.
After guiding Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in 2000, he spent six seasons with Lille before joining Olympique Lyonnais in 2008. Puel helped Lyon to their first ever Champions League semi-final in 2010, then going on to spend four seasons with Nice before departing in the summer.
Executive Director of Football Les Reed said: “The process to appoint a new First Team Manager has been diligent and meticulous. In order to ensure we appointed a manager who would meet our needs as a club, feedback from the dressing room, as well as taking account of our culture, vision and values, was critical in drawing up our criteria for the appointment.
“As the process eliminated a number of excellent candidates, Claude clearly came out on top of a very impressive shortlist. We have not only got the best man, but the right coaching team to support him.
“Eric Black has an excellent pedigree as a coach and vast experience domestically and internationally. Pascal Plancque has an excellent record as a technical coach and, like Claude, has been responsible for developing many young French talents into top quality players.
“Claude has a fantastic platform to work from and is aware that our ambition is to repeat and improve on our performances in the Premier League over the past three seasons.
“Claude has a track record of improving the situations he has been presented with and we are confident he can repeat this at Southampton.
“His Champions League and European experience will be valuable in our Europa League challenge this coming season and with the support of our excellent staff at the club I am sure he will do well.
“We are once again excited about what the new season will bring, and we will continue to chase records as we have done in recent years.”