Southampton near deal for Marlon Santos

According to Sport, Southampton are on the verge of sealing a deal for Barcelona defender Marlon Santos, who will cost the English club in the region of £10.6m.

What’s the story?

Speculation linking Southampton with a move for Marlon has gathered pace over the last few weeks, with the Saints keen admirers of the Brazilian.

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Head coach Mark Hughes is believed to have identified the 22-year-old as the perfect player to boost his defensive unit this summer, and according to Sport, a deal is now close to being completed.

It is understood that the Saints will pay Barcelona £10.6m for Marlon, who has also been linked with West Ham United since the end of last season.

Southampton have already been busy this summer – bringing in Mohamed Elyounoussi, Angus Gunn and Stuart Armstrong, and it appears that Hughes is far from finished.

What are Marlon’s credentials?

A two-time Brazil Under-23 international, Marlon moved to Barcelona from Fluminense on loan in the summer of 2016, and was a regular for Barcelona B during the 2016-17 season.

The deal was made permanent in last summer’s transfer window, but the defender was ultimately sent on loan to Nice for the 2017-18 campaign.

Whilst in France, Marlon made 23 Ligue 1 appearances, and also featured on three occasions in the Europa League.

The centre-back was also due to spend next season on loan at Nice, but Barcelona recalled him this summer with the view to a sale, which is now close to going through.

There will be a slight concern over whether Marlon can deal with the rigours of the Premier League, but at £10.6m, the deal is a bit of a no-brainer for Southampton and the talented star could prove to be even better than Virgil van Dijk in the long run given what he has shown in the early years of his career.

It will be very interesting to see how the 5ft 11in central defender performs for his soon-to-be English club in the new campaign.