The Italian joined Southampton in 2009 after playing a key role in the purchase of the south coast club by Swiss businessman Markus Liebherr -- Katharina's father.

He oversaw the Saints' rise from League One to the Premier League but his exit came amid reports of a disagreement with Katharina Liebherr, who became the club's owner after her father's death in 2010.

There have been reports in the British press suggesting she does not share her late father's passion for Southampton, currently ninth in the 20-team Premier League, and that Cortese's exit could be the prelude to the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino.

But in a statement on Southampton's website published Tuesday, Liebherr tried to re-assure supporters by saying: "Having inherited Southampton Football Club following my father's untimely passing , I am delighted and proud of the exhilarating period of success that the team and the staff has enjoyed these past few years, buoyed by the unstinting support of the fans.

"I am absolutely committed to ensuring that the club continues this success."

And Liebherr insisted that Pochettino would not be put under pressure to offload any players during the remainder of the January transfer window.

"I have met our manager Mauricio Pochettino and have given him my complete support to build on the good work that has already been achieved.

"We have also said that we have no plans to sell any of the squad during the January transfer window. Yesterday (Monday) I met the rest of the staff and gave them the same message of support."

She added: "We are now in the top half one of the most competitive leagues in the world, playing attractive football with a young and ambitious team, and poised to move into world-class training facilities.

"We have much to be thankful for.

"I am particularly excited that the Southampton tradition of nurturing and providing young talent with first-team opportunities is set to flourish with the strong academy foundation we have put in place.

"Finally, let me say this. I will ensure that all decisions made about the future of the club will be in the best interests of its staff, players, management and fans and will be taken with the prime objective of honouring and maintaining the club's heritage and tradition in the Southampton way."