Southampton 'tracking' 20 y/o gem 'flourishing' in Championship

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl in the Premier League against Tottenham

Southampton have set their sights on welcoming James Garner to St Mary’s when the Manchester United midfielder’s Nottingham Forest loan expires at the end of the season, according to The Sun journalist Tom Barclay.

Saints opted against splashing the cash during the January transfer window despite Sport Republic completing their takeover of the club shortly after the turn of the year, but it appears boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has already been searching for potential arrivals ahead of the summer.

What’s the latest news involving Garner?

According to The Sun, Southampton are keeping a close eye on Garner and looking to strike a deal with Manchester United.

The report suggests the Red Devils would ideally like to sanction a loan switch to a Premier League club ahead of next season, but Leeds United are also vying for the 20-year-old’s services and may prefer to negotiate a permanent switch despite Garner wanting to make the grade at Old Trafford.

Garner’s £20,000-per-week contract is not due to expire until the summer of 2024, so Manchester United are in a strong negotiating position and may be more inclined to facilitate a loan switch to St Mary’s rather than allowing their academy product to join arch-rivals Leeds.

The three-cap England under-21s international is currently plying his trade in the Championship after joining Nottingham Forest on loan for a second time last August.

Garner has only failed to be involved in one match since heading back to the City Ground and, following the September appointment of Steve Cooper as head coach, he has played a key role in Forest’s push for a play-off place.

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What has Tom Barclay said about Garner?

Barclay understands Garner has been added to Hasenhuttl’s list of Southampton targets ahead of the reopening of the transfer window.

The journalist reckons the defensive midfielder has taken his game to another level under Cooper’s stewardship.

Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “He’s a player they’re tracking. They like him and are seeing how his progress goes.

“He’s an under-21 international who seemed to find it hard at first when he went on loan to Forest, but now he is flourishing under Steve Cooper.

“I don’t know what Manchester United’s situation is with him and how they view him long-term, but he’s one of the players Southampton like.”

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Why is Garner on Hasenhuttl’s radar?

Garner may only be in the early years of his career, but he has already made a lasting impression on the pitch over the course of more than 80 senior appearances at club level.

Although he is a defensive-minded midfielder, Garner has shown he can contribute in the attacking third by chalking up 13 goal contributions.

He has also gained praise from Manchester United and Portugal star Bruno Fernandes, who believes Garner has a ‘brilliant future’ ahead of him.

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