Southampton have been linked with a move for Nantes striker Randal Kolo Muani, recently and if he were to make the move to St Mary’s this summer, it could prove to be bad news for Michael Obafemi.
According to French news outlet Foot Mercato, Southampton have already made contact with the player’s entourage ahead of a potential summer signing, whilst Watford and other clubs from across Europe are also said to be interested in the 22-year-old.
It is suggested that Southampton will have to pay at least €5m (£4.3m) if they want to sign the striker, which immediately seems to fit in with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s claim that the Saints will target players for under £10m this summer.
Kolo Muani, who is currently valued at £6.3m by Transfermarkt, has enjoyed a breakthrough season in Ligue 1 with Nantes, contributing five goals and five assists in 31 top-flight appearances. His only previous first team experience came in a loan spell at third-tier side US Boulogne last season, where he managed three goals and five assists in just 14 appearances.
Unfortunately, the 22-year-old’s impressive performances have not been enough for Nantes to enjoy a successful season as they are battling against relegation to Ligue 2, which could work in Southampton’s favour if they look to bring him to St Mary’s this summer.
The French under-21 international would likely challenge for a first team spot in Hasenhuttl’s side, although he would presumably be behind Danny Ings and Che Adams in the pecking order initially.
He would add to the competition up front at Southampton and that could prove to be bad news for Obafemi who, after a bright start to his Saints career, has been surplus to requirements this season.
The Republic of Ireland under-21 international has made just one substitute appearance in the Premier League so far this season and looked set for a loan move to Swansea City in January before he picked up a season-ending injury.
Whilst he is just 20, Hasenhuttl has raised concerns about the striker in the past, claiming that he lacks professionalism; and considering his contract with the club is set to expire at the end of next season, it is difficult at this point to see him signing an extension.
Certainly, if Kolo Muani were to arrive this summer, it would likely push Obafemi further down the pecking order at Southampton, and it would not be a surprise to see the Irish youngster depart permanently in search of more regular first team football.