Southampton are set to trump Liverpool in the race to sign Italian international defender Davide Astori.
The Reds have reportedly offered around £7.5m to land the Cagliari centre back, but the Serie A side’s valuation of the player is in the region of £12m and will, therefore, be more likely to accept Saints’ £9.5m bid.
The team in greater need of Astori’s services is not up for debate.
Nigel Adkins’ men have conceded 38 goals in 20 Premier League games and have had their defensive shortcomings highlighted in plenty of post-match analyses since their return to the top flight.
Should they clinch the Astori deal, he would walk straight into the team at St Mary’s as a key part of the club’s quest to avoid an immediate return to the Championship and this could sway any decision he makes should Liverpool up their offer to match that of Southampton’s.
Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have formed a solid centre back pairing and this is not something Brendan Rodgers would want to tamper with.
This would render Astori a mere squad player should he make the switch to Merseyside and, with Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates more than adequate replacements waiting in the wings, it’s unlikely that the Reds’ boss would be so haphazard as to squander what little transfer money remains to him on another central defensive reinforcement.
The bedrock of Southampton’s team is not quite as sturdy, with Adkins juggling various combinations from three players who arguably are not quite cut out for such a high level as the Premier League. Maya Yoshida is gradually getting acclimatised with the rigours of the English game, but Joos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte were found wanting more than once in the Championship last term and were always going to find making the step up in class difficult.
In addition to this, Saints have another Serie A recruit in Gaston Ramirez currently plying his trade with them and his presence could assist in Astori’s bedding in.
Whether Astori would be prepared to risk signing a long-term deal with a club that could well end the campaign on the sour note of relegation – which can be backed at 23/20 – remains to be seen but, should he take the gamble, it could prove a shrewd move if Saints can stay up and invest further in the summer.
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