Southampton: Summer exit tipped at St. Mary's

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl will not sign a new central defender unless one of his existing options leaves St Mary’s at the end of the season, according to The Sun journalist Tom Barclay.

The reopening of the transfer window will present Hasenhuttl with the opportunity to freshen up his Saints squad in the summer.

What’s the latest news involving Southampton’s centre-backs?

According to The Athletic, Hasenhuttl has identified bringing in a new centre-half as a priority heading into the summer.

The report suggests the Austrian is keen to bolster his options at the heart of Saints’ defence and it could mean that one of his current options may need to depart in order to make room for a potential fresh face.

Hasenhuttl currently has four central defenders – in the form of Mohammed Salisu, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Lyanco – at his disposal.

However, he is currently unable to call upon Lyanco, who joined from Torino following Jannik Vestergaard’s £15million switch to Leicester City last summer, due to injury.

Lyanco is understood to be ahead of schedule as he continues his recovery from a hamstring tendon problem suffered in the FA Cup win over Coventry City in February.

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What has Tom Barclay said about the situation?

Barclay believes Hasenhuttl will only welcome a new central defender to St Mary’s if one of Salisu, Bednarek, Stephens or Lyanco leaves the club in the summer.

The journalist does not feel Saints will go into next season with a quintet of options in the position.

Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “I’m not 100 per cent sure but I think, from what I’ve been told, if someone’s coming in, it’s probably more likely that someone’s going out rather than them suddenly having five senior centre-backs.”

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Southampton's Sadio Mane Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Tony O'Brien

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Which of the current central defenders is most likely to depart Southampton?

Stephens’ £50,000-per-week contract is set to expire in the summer, meaning Southampton would not face any trouble in getting him off the books quickly.

However, it is not a foregone conclusion that he will leave Saints as it was reported during the early months of the campaign that Stephens was on the verge of committing his long-term future to the club by signing fresh terms.

Meanwhile, according to 90min, Salisu was close to joining Newcastle United in a £40million deal in January.

Italian media outlet Corriere dello Sport have revealed Salisu and Bednarek have also caught the eye of Italian giants Napoli ahead of the summer, so there is a possibility that Southampton could boast a new-look backline by the time next season gets underway.

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