Gareth Bale has emerged as a shock target for Southampton following their recent £100m takeover, according to reports.
Dragan Solak-backed investment firm Sport Republic has acquired an 80 per cent stake in Southampton. It heralds a new era for the club, although the new investors have admitted they will not be looking to implement a revolution.
Instead, they will be building on the foundations Southampton already have in place. Still, there is the potential for the club to get excited about potential new signings.
According to El Nacional, Solak has made a return for Gareth Bale his “first goal” in the January transfer market.
Bale came through Southampton’s academy ranks from the age of nine. He went on to make 45 appearances for their first team when they were in the Championship. By 2007, he earned a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur.
In north London, Bale became one of the Premier League’s most feared wingers. He spent six seasons with Spurs before sealing a world-record transfer to Real Madrid.
His time in Spain has had its share of ups and downs. Bale’s impact was initially positive, but he has never been the most popular figure in Madrid. He has suffered a decline in fortunes in recent years and spent last season on loan back at Tottenham.
Bale is back in Madrid for this season, although it is likely to be his last. His contract will expire in June, paving the way for him to find a new club.
There have been whispers of another return to Tottenham in the summer. But according to El Nacional, Southampton are the former club Bale could in fact re-join.
The report claims Madrid owner Florentino Perez is willing to offload Bale for free immediately. He would prefer to get his high salary off the books.
Gareth Bale back to Southampton?
Southampton could “take advantage”, the report claims, after identifying Bale as someone who can steer them clear of a relegation battle.
In fact, El Nacional believe Solak has already had conversations with Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett.
However, Southampton may encounter difficulties convincing Bale to make the move. It is claimed he would prefer to return to Tottenham, and Antonio Conte wants to take him there.
Therefore, it would be “complicated” for Southampton to hijack the transfer – but their change of ownership may lead to more speculation.
Shock Southampton exit link
Southampton’s new investors will not just be concerned about potential signings, though. They may also need to consider which players to offload.
And Southampton star Lyanco could be in line for a shock January exit as one well-known club has reportedly registered its interest.
The centre-back moved to St Mary’s in August after Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side agreed a deal with Torino. Lyanco penned a four-year contract with the club to replace Leicester-bound Jannik Vestergaard.
The Brazilian made his debut in September’s Carabao Cup win over Sheffield United. He is now on 10 appearances in all competitions for Saints.
Lyanco’s influence on the team is slowly growing, although he hasn’t been on the winning side since November 5. He has missed Southampton’s last three fixtures due to coronavirus.
The 24-year-old is likely to form a centre-back partnership with either Jan Bednarek or Mohammed Salisu over the next few seasons.
However, Saints will have to fend off interest from Europe first. Sport Witness, citing reports in Portugal, claim a Primeira Liga outfit has set their sights on Lyanco.
Reigning champions Sporting are monitoring his situation. They believe the player could be tempted into a transfer if his fortunes in England do not improve.
Ruben Amorim’s team are long-term admirers of Lyanco. His signing is apparently an ‘old dream’ of theirs, potentially from his time with Torino.
Financial constraints mean Sporting would only be able to complete a deal at ‘low cost’. The most likely offer would therefore be a loan.
However, Saints are unlikely to negotiate such an early exit for Lyanco. They will want to see him grow over a full season before making any decision on his future.
The original fee Southampton paid for him remained undisclosed. However, reports have since put it at £7m, which is out of Sporting’s reach.