Southampton transfer news: In-demand star 'thinks Aston Villa are an upgrade' on Saints

Aston Villa's home ground Villa Park

James Ward-Prowse is keen to move on from Southampton this summer, according to Football Insider.

What's the latest news on Ward-Prowse?

The 26-year-old came through the club's academy, and made his debut for the senior side back in 2011. He has since gone to to make 322 appearances for the Saints, but his time at St Mary's could be coming to an end.

It was reported earlier this month that Aston Villa are interested in signing the England international, and Ward-Prowse is believed to be willing to move to the Midlands as he views Villa as an upgrade on Southampton.

How did Southampton and Villa fare in 2020/21?

Southampton started the 2020/21 season strongly, and briefly led the Premier League back in November. However, the team only won four of their last 21 league games, and eventually finished down in 15th place in the table.

Meanwhile, Villa pushed on this year after narrowly avoiding relegation in 2019/20. The side ended the campaign in 11th place, 12 points above Southampton. They also scored eight more goals and conceded 22 fewer times than Ralph Hasenhuttl's men.

This suggests that based on the last 12 months, Villa have outperformed Southampton, so it makes sense that Ward-Prowse views them as an upgrade on the South Coast club.

Is a deal between the two clubs close?

Reportedly not.

Transfermarkt value Ward-Prowse at £27m, but given that he appears to be at his peak and has a long-term contract with his boyhood club, it seems unlikely that Southampton will be willing to let him go on the cheap.

The midfielder only signed a new deal to remain at the club last August, and this runs until 2025, indicating that Southampton ought to be in a strong negotiating position if Villa step up their interest and make an official offer in the coming weeks.

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Could Hasenhuttl's job be about to get a lot tougher?

The first half of 2021 has been a real struggle for Hasenhuttl and his side.

Under the guidance of the Austrian coach, the team had a dismal end to the season, which included shipping nine goals in a game against Manchester United in February, and it has been confirmed that experienced left-back Ryan Bertrand will be leaving the club when his contract expires next week.

Throw in the fact that they have yet to make a signing in the transfer window, and it seems that things aren't looking particularly rosy for Hasenhuttl. They could be about to get a lot worse as well.

If Ward-Prowse were to depart during this transfer window, Southampton would be losing their captain, who was also arguably their best player this season.

WhoScored certainly seemed to think he was, as they gave him the highest average game rating in the Southampton squad of 7.07. With eight goals and seven assists to his name in the Premier League, Ward-Prowse was directly involved in 32% of Southampton's goals this term, demonstrating his importance to the side.

Finding someone equally influential would be a very difficult task for Hasenhuttl. 2021 has been a poor year for the 53-year-old so far, and tougher times could yet be ahead.

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