Southampton: Dragan Solak 'will be desperate' to keep £34m star at St Mary's


Southampton’s new owners will not ‘want to lose’ their top players this summer as it ‘sends out the wrong signals’, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.

Serbian-born cable television tycoon Dragan Solak completed a £100 million takeover of the club in January, with investment firm Sport Republic ending the majority ownership of Gao Jisheng.

What is the latest news involving Southampton?

According to Sky Sports, Solak is understood to be behind a new holding company which will examine offers for clubs around the world, replicating a business strategy employed by the owners of Manchester City.

However, Southampton failed to make any signings during the January transfer window, and Tom Barclay has previously informed GiveMeSport that the south coast club’s transfer policy will not change.

In recent years, the Saints have moved away from producing their own stars and have instead started to buy promising youngsters before developing them and selling on for sizeable profits.

The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane have perhaps been the most successful examples of Southampton’s new approach, bringing in a combined £129m in transfer fees.

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And midfielder James Ward-Prowse is the latest star to be linked with a move to one of the Premier League’s top teams.

Southampton turned down a £25m bid from Aston Villa last summer before the England international signed a new five-year contract, yet Spanish sources claimed in January that Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are all monitoring his progress.

What has O’Rourke said about Southampton?

O’Rourke believes that Ward-Prowse ‘would be a great signing’ for some of the Premier League’s elite sides, but that his exit could be damaging for Southampton’s new owners.

He told GiveMeSport: “I think Ward-Prowse would be a great signing for some of the big clubs. His set-piece delivery is probably the best in the Premier League, and his free-kick taking as well.

“So, for Southampton’s new owners, they’ll be desperate to keep hold of these top players because they don’t want to lose them. Otherwise, it sends out the wrong signals.”

Would losing Ward-Prowse be a big blow?

Ward-Prowse, who is valued at £34m by the CIES Football Observatory, is second only to David Beckham on the list of the Premier League’s all-time free-kick goalscorers.

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

Can you guess where Sadio Mane began his footballing career?

The 27-year-old offers more than just his dead-ball specialism, though, with WhoScored rating him as Southampton’s top performer this season.

It remains to be seen if Ward-Prowse remains loyal to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s charges, and the Austrian tactician will surely be desperate to retain the services of his captain for a little while longer.

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