Premier League club Southampton could have a tough time keeping hold of their star striker Graziano Pelle as Serie A side Lazio have made him their number one transfer target, according to The Sun.
German veteran Miroslav Klose, who turns 38 in June is set to leave the Rome-based outfit this summer and the club wants to bring in Pelle as his replacement.
The Italian forward turned down a mega-money deal from the Chinese Super League earlier this year and later was linked with a shock move to Leicester City in January which failed to materialise.
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Pelle moved to Southampton in 2014 from Dutch side Feyenoord for £8 million and became an instant success, adapting quickly to the rigours of the Premier League - scoring regularly in the process.
In his two seasons at St. Mary’s, he has managed to amass 29 goals in all competitions for Ronald Koeman’s side. But recently he disclosed his desire to return to his homeland, admitting to being homesick.
Pelle will be one of the members of Antonio Conte’s Italian squad for the upcoming Euro 2016 in France after impressing the next Chelsea boss during his stay in England.
AC Milan are also keen on signing him as he enters the final year of his current contract with the south coast club next season. Hence, Lazio want to begin negotiations before the Euros kick off, fearing the possibility the striker’s valuation will rise if he impresses in the tournament.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito is said to be an admirer of Pelle and has insisted the club to bring him back to Italy where he last played for Sampdoria in 2012.
The 30-year-old has all the credentials to lead the attack and has already scored 13 goals alongside assisted six more for the Saints this term in all competitions.
STYLE OF PLAY
Although a late bloomer, Pelle is described as a traditional ‘target-man’, with an eye for goal. His physical presence, excellent work-rate and ability to win aerial duels make him the focal point of attack for club and country.
His style-of-play has often been compared with compatriot Luca Toni who was similar to him in every aspect on the pitch and particularly excelled for the national team.
Performances for Italy in next few months could determine the future of the hitman, but given Southampton's inability to keep hold of their star players over the last few years we should not be too surprised to see a move unfold.