It was reported earlier this week that the Saints are among several Premier League clubs taking an interest in the Englishman, who could be allowed to leave Old Trafford for as little as £15m this summer.
In an interview with Football FanCast, Pete O’Rourke has shared his thoughts on Southampton’s potential signing of Garner.
He said: “I think Garner would tick a lot of boxes for Southampton. He is a young player, it does look like Southampton are going down the youthful side of things, they are looking for young players with promise that they can develop and sell on in the future.”
As O’Rourke suggests, Southampton have had a clear recruitment plan in this summer’s transfer window. The youthful additions of Gavin Bazunu, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Romeo Lavia and Sekou Mara (all 20 or younger) emphasise as such, and Garner would be another signing to fit that model.
The 21-year-old excelled in a loan spell with Nottingham Forest last season, helping Steve Cooper’s side to earn promotion back to the top flight, scoring four goals and setting up eight in 44 league appearances for the Reds.
Garner averaged a strong 7.09 rating from WhoScored for his performances in the second tier, which was better than any Saints player managed in the Premier League, so it is clear that he had an excellent season and looks ready for the step up to the top flight.
According to WhoScored, the young midfielder excels at playing key passes and making interceptions, while he has an impressive defensive work rate and ability from set-pieces.
His prowess from dead ball situations was praised by former team-mate Ryan Yates last season, who said: “The delivery has got to be good, it’s got to be in the right areas. We’ve got one of the best in the league at that in James. He’s unbelievable.
“A lot of credit has got to go to him. It probably goes under the radar a bit. He is always practising them, and he is such a threat.”
Although Southampton already have one of the Premier League’s best set-piece takers in James Ward-Prowse, Garner’s ability should not be undervalued. At 21, he could step up should the Saints captain ever leave the club.
Considering Garner’s age, value and impressive performances last season, this seems like the sort of signing that Hasenhuttl would love to make, so it would not be a surprise to see the south coast club win the race to sign the Manchester United man this summer.