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Southampton: Talks begin for Belgium youngster; Saints pursue back-up for Forster

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A reasonably quiet few weeks on the south coast in the transfer market has been followed by a fresh pursuit of two new players.

Saints’ flawless preseason so far will definitely have fans excited for the season ahead but the demanding calendar of Europa League football may push manager, Claude Puel to add some more depth to his squad.

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A goal-scoring winger still seems to lack amongst the Southampton ranks; a void left by the departure of Sadio Mane.

However, the Daily Mail are reporting that talks have begun between the Saints and Anderlecht over the signing of young Belgian midfielder, Samuel Bastien.

The 19-year-old spent last season on loan at Serie B side Avellino, where he scored two goals in 31 appearances from centre-midfield.

There had been rumours linking Bastien to Liverpool earlier in the summer but the Saints are now in pole position, but is this a wise move?

Of course, £4million is a relatively small figure but with a number of young central midfielders already at Southampton, the focus should be channelled somewhere else.

The likes of James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed and new summer signing, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg are all at Puel’s disposal already.

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Although Ward-Prowse and Højbjerg are likely to get ample game time under the new manager, Reed is one that will desperately be hoping to force his way into first team plans.

An abundance of young and experienced midfielders makes it a very strange decision but if Bastien does live up to the hype that’s being created in Belgium, Southampton may have a steal at £4million.

Meanwhile, Sky Sports have confirmed that talks have begun between Southampton and Crystal Palace of the signing of ‘keeper, Alex McCarthy.

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The goalkeeper position has become thin on the ground due to the retirement of club legend Kelvin Davis, and the departure of loanee Maarten Stekelenburg who returned to Fulham before joining ex-Saints manager Ronald Koeman at Everton.

McCarthy has endured a career of numerous loan spells and now the Saints are aiming to bring the Eagles shot-stopper to St Mary’s to contest the number one spot with England international, Fraser Forster.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear encouraging news for Argentinian ‘keeper Paulo Gazzaniga, despite the fact he signed a new four-year deal in 2015.

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Gazzaniga joined the club in 2012 but has been restricted to just 21 appearances and the arrival of McCarthy could force the ‘keeper further down the pecking order.

The 24-year-old has been very inconsistent when called upon to feature in the first team and the arrival of McCarthy could bring the best out of both Gazzaniga and Forster.


Featured Image: All rights reserved to Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht

English Premier League

Southampton could be left looking foolish as Matt Targett pushes for promotion

The England under-21 international is hoping to win promotion with Fulham.

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Fulham are firmly in the fight for promotion to the Premier League. The Cottagers are chasing Cardiff City in the hunt for the automatic places and will have a shot at the play-offs if they do not make it into the top two. Fulham’s brilliant form has been largely down to the arrival of a loan signing from the Premier League. Despite Newcastle United’s own struggles, Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent to Craven Cottage to try and find some form. The Serbian has done just that, scoring goals for fun in West London. But the impact of another loanee cannot be understated.

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Matt Targett arrived from Southampton at the end of January and has gone on to become an integral member of the Fulham first-team. Targett has played 15 times since his move to the club, even finding the back of the net once.

The Saints man has been solid defensively and a threat going forward for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men.

For Southampton, loaning him out could prove to make them look foolish. Whilst Fulham are pushing for promotion, Southampton are desperately scrapping against relegation from the Premier League.

Whilst Ryan Bertrand may be the out-and-out first choice at left-back Mark Hughes’ recent switch to a back three could certainly have seen Targett playing a role in the matchday squad at St Mary’s once again.

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But above anything else, it will be the principle of the matter.

Mauricio Pellegrino was not a fan of Targett and therefore sent him on his way, but he should still be around the club and making an impact in the fight for survival. The fact Southampton, who are currently five points adrift of safety, could get relegated whilst a player they loaned out wins promotion is just bad PR – pure and simple.

It will certainly be interesting to see just where Targett ends up next season, and which division he will be playing in.

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Everton

Would Tottenham or Everton be the best move for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand?

The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away from the south coast this summer.

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After being told by Southampton bosses that the club could not afford to lose both him and Virgil Van Dijk in the same season, this summer may finally see Ryan Bertrand depart Saint Mary’s.

The Sun report that Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle are among the clubs interested in a £25 million bid this summer, following on from Manchester City‘s attempts to lure him north last summer.

The 28-year-old has again shown himself to be a reliable Premier League defender this season but faces a tough choice on where to go next with a departure looking likely as the Saints struggle at the wrong end of the table.

With Tottenham and Everton leading the way, it may not be a simple choice for the versatile defender.

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A move to Spurs would provide the ex-Chelsea man with a return to the Champions League, a competition he won whilst with the Blues, but would also face more of a challenge to walk straight into the first team.

Ben Davies has been performing well at left-back, with Danny Rose also still at the club despite injury problems, and so he may be forced into a less comfortable role on the left of a back three, a position which Jan Vertonghen has made his own.

At Goodison Park, Bertrand can see his role as a leader in the team right from day one. With Leighton Baines not getting any younger, the club is clearly on the look-out for a replacement and he could be that man.

The doubt over a move to the Toffees would be regarding the instability at the club. Sam Allardyce’s future is anything but certain and Bertrand’s loyalty to his previous two clubs may mean he seeks a long-term project and avoid adding to the list of expensive failures that Everton racked up last summer.

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English Premier League

Mark Hughes should try again for Ki Sung-yueng this summer

The Swansea City midfielder is out of contract in South Wales this summer.

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Swansea City’s recent resurgence up the Premier League table has been largely due to the improved form of some of their first-team players. Inspired by new manager Carlos Carvalhal many of the Swansea team finally found form, helping the club move toward Premier League safety. One such player who typifies this turnaround in performance more than any other is midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng.

The 29-year-old has been in fantastic form in the heart of the Swansea midfield. But Swansea are currently fearful of losing the player. He is out of contract in the summer and AC Milan are being linked with a move. Calciomercato revealed earlier this month that the Rossoneri are keen on bringing Ki in on a free transfer this summer.

Southampton Welsh manager Mark Hughes arrives for the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Wigan Athletic and Southampton at DW Stadium in Wigan, northwest England on March 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

But should Southampton boss Mark Hughes make his intentions for the player clear again?

Hughes is a fan of the midfielder. Back in the summer of 2012 Premier League clubs were scrambling for the then-Celtic midfielder. The Mirror reported that QPR, then managed by Hughes, were one such team. A £6 million fee was touted for the midfield maestro.

However, Ki ended up at Swansea. That season’s opening game saw Swansea absolutely obliterate QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road. As reported by Wales Online, it was that performance that helped Ki decide on Swansea and not QPR.

SWANSEA, WALES – DECEMBER 02: Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Queens Park Rangers at Liberty Stadium on December 2, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Hughes is now manager of Southampton and, before even contemplating signing Ki, will need to steer the Saints away from the relegation zone.

If he can do that, Ki will surely be a name coming across his desk. Southampton need to improve their entire squad if they are to find their way back to the top-half of the Premier League table.

Ki would be the perfect option on which to build the Southampton midfield. An excellent passer with over five years of top-flight experience he is currently in some of the best form of his career.

At 29-years-old he is in his prime and Southampton boss Hughes would love to finally bring in the midfielder, six years after he failed to do so with QPR.

AC Milan will be formidable opponents for anyone trying to tie down Ki, including Swansea. But Southampton beating the Italian giants to a player like Ki would be a big statement of intent ahead of the new campaign.

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