It has been reported by Lincolnshire Live that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton are eyeing up a move for young Lincoln City emerging talent Ellis Chapman.
The original report from the regional also suggests that Sky Bet Championship outfits Derby County and Wigan Athletic are too interested in the 18-year-old central midfielder, meaning a transfer battle could be afoot this summer.
Chapman is out of contract with the Sky Bet League Two champions at the end of May, opening up the opportunity for any of the clubs chasing him to secure the Lincoln-native on a free.
The starlet was born and bred in the city and progressed through the academy of Danny Cowley’s men via a brief spell with Leicester City. He’s spent the bulk of this season on loan in the National League with Chesterfield, although did pick up a League Two winners’ medal.
The Saints must beat off Derby and Wigan’s competition to secure the signature of the 6 ft 2 man in the summer transfer window as he would be the perfect gift for current central midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
If he did switch Sincil Bank for St. Mary’s Stadium, Chapman wouldn’t get anywhere near the starting Xl straight away, despite having senior experience already.
But what he would likely do is train with the first team and make matchday squads, breathing down the neck of two of the club’s current central midfielders, Ward-Prowse himself and captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
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This extra competition would do the former the world of good as the 24-year-old has been the model of inconsistency in recent campaigns.
Ward-Prowse’s best form of the last couple of seasons arrived around the turn of the year and lasted until the end of the 2018/2019 term, seeing him break back into the England squad.
It’s going to be a huge challenge for the Three Lions star to carry it on heading into the new campaign. But knowing there’s an extra man fighting to be in his place under Hasenhuttl and therefore, less margin for error, would give him far greater motivation and a far greater chance of being able to do just that.