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Portuguese Hazard can convince Saints he’s a Lallana replacement

| 16.06.2014

Although he had to settle for a bit-part role in England’s World Cup opener with Italy, Adam Lallana is one of the vibrant attacking players that has got the country excited about the tournament.

It was his performances for Southampton during last season’s Premier League campaign that got Lallana onto Roy Hodgson’s plane to Brazil, but it is his displays during the tournament that could tip the balance on his Saints future.

Since the end of the season, speculation has been rife over where the 26-year-old will play his football next term especially after the departure of his manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to Tottenham.

Liverpool are thought to be the front runners to pluck Lallana out of St Mary’s, with a Pochettino reunion in north London not out of the question either, so it seems that the south-coast club must find a replacement this summer.

While they watch the World Cup, a Portuguese midfielder could well catch their eye. Although Southampton are unlikely to have enough money for Cristiano Ronaldo, a young number 10 is certainly priced within their budget.

Braga’s Rafa Silva is likely to be used as an impact player off of Paulo Bento’s bench when the country gets their World Cup campaign underway against Germany, a match they are 14/5 to win, but can still impress in brief showings.

The 21-year-old is a versatile creator who would fit into Southampton’s footballing philosophy, as he’s able to play in behind the striker as well as on either wing.

Lallana was used in a variety of positions himself last season and Silva’s adaptability would be a like-for-like replacement in that sense.

Having made 31 appearances for the Portuguese club in all competitions last season and managing eight goals, Silva would provide a similar goal-threat to his potential predecessor, although his lack of a single assist in that time needs obvious improvement.

Silva is 6/1 to score at any time against Germany.

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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.