Who is…the Malaga creator Southampton are weighing up?

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Southampton to finish in 2016/17 top six

Strengthening central midfield is clearly Claude Puel’s priority at Southampton this summer.

After losing Victor Wanyama to Tottenham early on in the transfer window, the south coast club brought in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich and are now targeting one of Malaga’s main creators.

According to the Sun, the Saints are interested in Jose Luis Garcia del Pozo or, as he is more commonly known, Recio.

A product of the Costa del Sol club’s academy, the 25-year-old has played 110 games for his hometown club since breaking into the first team in 2010. However, he could be available for just £5m.

Such a small price may be seen as a bargain considering Recio made 33 league appearances last term and logged the third-most minutes in the squad.

During that time he provided his teammates with four assists, which was the second-highest tally in the team, while he was successful with 82.3% of his total passes.

In a sign of his improvement, the one-cap Spain U21 international also comfortably registered career highs for both total passes and key balls.

Of the current Southampton squad, Recio’s closest comparison is Steven Davis, who made around two passes-per-game more than the Spaniard on average last term and completed his knocks at a marginally better rate.

It could be argued that the Malaga man would be brought in to be the Northern Ireland captain’s long-term replacement, with Davis set to turn 32 in January.

Puel’s first competitive game in charge of Southampton will be the visit of Watford on the opening weekend of the season. The Saints are 4/5 to win that and 7/2 to finish in the top six.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.