Charlie Austin will not have been delighted to spend the whole of England’s friendly with Ireland sitting on the bench, but at least it gave the QPR striker time to consider his options this summer.
The 25-year-old is on the shopping list of several Premier League sides after scoring 18 goals in 35 league appearances for the Rs this season, and picking between them will be no easy task.
Of course much will depend on which teams are prepared to meet QPR’s valuation of Austin, which is reportedly at least £15m, but if the striker does get to choose between them, we at news.ladbrokes think Southampton is the best option available.
Along with the Saints, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and Newcastle United are apparently in the hunt, but alarm bells should be ringing for Austin when he considers any of those three sides.
Spurs might have finished the highest of the quartet in the Premier League last term, but Mauricio Pochettino favours a one-striker system, and Austin faces little chance of displacing Harry Kane.
The QPR man might be attracted by regular cup outings and the chance that Kane’s annus mirabilis is followed by second-season syndrome, but that’s not a risk worth taking with so many other options available to him.
Newcastle would offer Austin regular football, but at the cost of joining a club at war with itself, and Jonas Gutierrez for one would have some advice about how the Magpies treat their playing staff under Mike Ashley.
Aston Villa, who presumably would sign the 25-year-old as a replacement for Christian Benteke, would also likely give Austin the chance to carry on playing first-team Premier League football, but does he really fancy another relegation scrap?
Meanwhile, Southampton offer the opportunity to join a thriving top-10 club in Europe, and Austin would need only to displace Graziano Pelle to become top-dog at St Mary’s.
The Italian started life in the Premier League in spectacular fashion, scoring eight times in his first 10 games, but quickly went off the boil to leave the Saints in the lurch upfront.
Pelle netted just four goals in 19 league games in 2015, and Austin would have to fancy his chances of displacing the 29-year-old if he moves to the south coast.
Southampton are 12/1 to gatecrash the Premier League’s top four and claim a Champions League spot next term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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