Ben Fisher on 29 December 2017
With no Virgil van Dijk to worry about after the defender said his goodbyes to his Southampton team-mates at the training ground on Thursday morning, manager Mauricio Pellegrino has already moved on, rapidly funnelling through the shortlist of transfer targets in front of him. After the club lined their pockets to the tune of £70m up front, the Southampton manager wants to bring at least two signings through the door in January and at the top of the pile are no strangers to this parish. With Charlie Austin expected to be out until February, a loan move for another striker plagued by injuries has been mooted, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge while Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who left St Mary’s as a teenager in 2006, is another target. Saints are also keeping one eye on Moussa Dembélé’s whereabouts, with the striker wanted by Brighton & Hove Albion among those queuing for his services.
“Maybe we change one player for two players or three players with this money and this has to be the positive target,” Pellegrino said on Thursday. At the back, £25m-rated Swansea City defender Alfie Mawson is an option, although West Ham United are equally keen. David Moyes also fancies Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen and Liverpool striker Danny Ings. Ryan Sessegnon, too, remains hot property, with Real Madrid the latest club said to be courting the left-sided Fulham player’s services.
After Liverpool delivered a hammer blow to Manchester City’s hopes and dreams of landing Van Dijk, Pep Guardiola is expected to step up his interest in the West Bromwich Albion centre-back, Jonny Evans as well as Real Sociedad defender Iñigo Martínez. The latter is said to have a £28m release clause in his contract, meaning City can bolster their defence for a fraction of the price they would have had to fork out for the Dutchman.
Elsewhere, Juventus have reportedly knocked back a £70m bid from Manchester United for striker Paolo Dybala, even though the Old Trafford club threw in Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a makeweight in the deal. In manager news, Steve McClaren is in talks over filling the void left by Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday and finally, down in the doldrums of League One, star attacking Peterborough United pair Marcus Maddison and Jack Marriott are staying put, according to the club’s owner, Darragh MacAnthony.