Pochettino targets Inter Milan for first two Southampton signings

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Southampton have already beaten Liverpool to one leading transfer target this season and Mauricio Pochettino is out to prove lightning can strike twice by swooping late to seal the signature of Philippe Coutinho.

Vegard Forren has already picked the Saints over Liverpool in the past week, citing the greater number of first-team opportunities as his leading reason.

Coutinho had reportedly interested Aston Villa in the early days of the transfer window, but talk has since dried up.

With Joe Cole having left Liverpool on loan, Coutinho could fill this void in the squad, although it’s fair to say that the Brazilian has even quicker feet and plenty more speed.

Meanwhile, he would offer a viable alternative to Luis Suarez in terms of dribbling in the opposition box and creating chances in tight situations.

The stumbling block so far is Brendan Rodgers’ valuation, with reports suggesting that only an €8m bid has been put on the table thus far, half the sum that Inter want.

Southampton have already shown with Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez that they are not shy in terms of splashing the cash and are almost certain to improve on Liverpool’s offer.

However, it is thought they may still struggle to meet Inter’s demands, which do seem on the high side based on what Coutinho has truly achieved in his relatively short career.

The good news is that Coutinho enjoyed a productive loan stint in the second half of last season under Pochettino at Espanyol and this should work in Southampton’s favour.

Southampton may even decide to take two fringe players off the hands of Andrea Stramaccioni, with Argentine Ricardo Alveraz apparently also interesting the new Saints boss.

Alvarez came to Inter with a big reputation, but since Claudio Ranieri’s tenure as manager ended, first-team opportunities have rapidly dried up.

Again, there are differences relating to asking price, but a combined deal could lower the fee.

Southampton are 20/1 to sign the most players in the transfer window and this price could offer some value given that new managers typically get busy in the market to stamp their own identity on a squad.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.