Southampton target Joao Mario would be a huge upgrade on Dusan Tadic

According to Italian media outlet Stadio Sport, Southampton are one of two Premier League clubs in pole position to sign Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario, who spent the second-half of the 2017/18 campaign on loan at West Ham United.

What’s the word, then?

Joao Mario looks on

Well, Stadio Sport report that the Serie A giants are ready to offload the Portugal international this summer, but they are only willing to let him leave on a permanent deal, rather than on loan again.

Stadio Sport report that Saints, along with top flight rivals Bournemouth, are ready to bring the 25-year-old to the south coast, and a move to England is looking likely following his spell with West Ham that has caught the eye of a number of teams.

The story adds that Southampton, who should take a risk on bringing a Liverpool outcast to St Mary’s, are ready to launch an offer to sign Mario in the coming days.

How well did Joao Mario do at West Ham?

While he certainly couldn’t be described as putting in spectacular performances, he did a more than solid enough job in a team that was ultimately in a relegation battle in the closing months of the campaign.

The Portuguese scored two goals and provided a further assist in 14 appearances in total for the east London side, which included a really important strike in the 2-0 win against Leicester City at the start of May that helped secure their Premier League status for at least another 12 months.

Would he be a good Southampton signing?

He certainly would be, yes.

The 25-year-old showed during the World Cup and in many glimpses with West Ham the quality that he has, and he could be the perfect replacement for Dusan Tadic at St Mary’s following his departure to Ajax last week given he has 12 assists in 47 games for Inter.

Mario is technically sound and can contribute in terms of creativity and goals, although his potential price tag may well put a deal in doubt seeing as it’s likely to be way beyond Saints’ previous transfer record of £19.1m which they spent on Guido Carrillo in January.