Chelsea have been dealt a blow in their alleged pursuit of Matt Targett following news the highly-rated defender is on the verge of signing a five-year contract with Southampton.
The Daily Mirror reports how the England U19 international is tipped to be the long-term successor to Luke Shaw at St Mary's after his predecessor left the south coast to pen a lucrative £120,000-a-week deal with Manchester United during the summer.
Targett has been eased slowly into the senior fold by Saints boss Ronald Koeman, who opted to fill the void left by Shaw's switch to Old Trafford by taking Ryan Bertrand on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
Bertrand has found first-team opportunities limited at Stamford Bridge since Jose Mourinho returned to west London, and jumped at the opportunity to join Southampton for the 2014/15 campaign.
Saints have an option to make Bertrand's transfer permanent, but will be conscious of stalling Targett's development. The talented teenager has been used sparingly in the Capital One Cup, but has looked very assured in everything that has been asked of him so far.
However, the Blues loanee has also impressed in the Premier League, making a vital contribution to helping maintain the stingiest defence in the country, as well as offering a regular attacking threat down the left flank.
Koeman will have a very difficult decision to make next summer, determining whether it would be prudent to spend £10 million on a player that might not be first choice for too much longer, particularly if Targett keeps progressing at the current rate.
The 19-year-old might also view Bertrand's frustrating spell with his parent club as reason to turn down the advances of Chelsea and pen a new deal with Southampton, the team that he's represented since the age of eight.
Unlike Shaw who came before him, Targett is a local lad who has supported Saints all his life, and that emotional connection might well play into the club's favour when it comes to finalising contract negotiations.
There's certainly hope from inside the club that confirmation of the full-back's new deal will be announced in the next few weeks, ending speculation of a prospective switch to suitors Chelsea.
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