Southampton have jumped to the front of the queue of clubs looking to bring Charlie Austin back to the Premier League, according to reports.
The QPR striker showed he is well equipped for life in the top flight by bagging 18 goals for the Hoops last season but remained at Loftus Road despite the club being relegated back to the Championship.
Southampton were among a host of clubs monitoring the former bricklayer’s situation in the summer, but with the 26-year-old’s contract running out the south coast club decided to bide their time.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman will have to battle the likes of Newcastle and Aston Villa for Austin’s services but with the former Burnley, Swindon and Poole Town man reluctant to sign up for another relegation scrap St Mary’s appears his most likely destination.
Austin can leave Loftus Road for free this summer and with the club languishing in 12th place – some 15 points behind leaders Brighton – it appears ever more likely that he will bid farewell to west London.
As such QPR are likely to offload their biggest asset when the transfer window re-opens in order to recoup the £4m they paid out to Burnley – if not make a profit.
Austin has netted eight goals in 14 appearances this term and is on course to complete a solid run that has seen him reach double figures in every single one of his playing seasons dating back to 2006.
With Sadio Mane rumoured to be a target for a host of clubs – including Manchester United – Austin would be a welcome addition to the Saints ranks, with most of the other strikers at the club failing to make their mark this season.
Graziano Pelle has top scored with six strikes, with Mane on three and Shane Long chipping in with two.
Through injury, lack of form or a lack of faith from Koeman, though, Jay Rodriguez, Juanmi and 19-year-old Ryan Seager are all yet to get off the mark.
Southampton currently sit 12th in the Premier League table and are priced at 5/1 to finish in the top six – sign Austin, however, and those odds could soon disappear.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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