Southampton and Sunderland are ready to go toe-to-toe for the signature of Leeds’ defensive starlet Sam Byram, according to reports from the Daily Star.

The full-back is considered to be one of English football’s top talents outside of the top tier, and has developed into a fans’ favourite at Elland Road after some encouraging displays.

And now they look set for a battle to keep him at the club, with the big boys circling.

WANT MORE? >> Southampton transfer news | Latest transfer news

Leeds are understood to have rebuffed an opening £4.5m offer from the Saints, while their North East rivals are waiting in the wings to launch their own move.

The Whites’ owner Massimo Cellino is thought to be desperate to hold onto the 20-year-old, but the lure of a big payday may be too much for the Championship outfit to overlook, especially with reports claiming he’s told them he wants out.

Byram is rumoured to be desperate to test himself in the top flight and is also aware that the wages on offer are far greater than he currently receives.

Southampton would appear to be favourites after losing a host of big names for big fees, but Sunderland are thought to be confident of luring the defender to the Stadium of Light.