Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have been heavily linked with the 19-year-old throughout the window, and while they are said to have made a bid to sign him permanently, a loan move seems more likely at this point after having a £16m offer rejected.
Guardiola confirmed earlier this week that: “We loaned ‘Macca’ [James McAtee, to Sheffield United], Liam is in that process because we have Erling and Julian and he needs minutes. The EDS phase is done. He has to try and go there and play the other ones.”
Southampton are arguably looking weaker up front than they did last season, as they have lost Armando Broja and Shane Long, with only 20-year-old Sekou Mara arriving as a new striker.
He also scored on his debut for the senior side in a cup win against Bournemouth so is clearly in Guardiola’s future plans, but is unlikely to get game time ahead of new signings Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez this season.
The forward, who Guardiola dubbed “exceptional“, could be exactly what Hasenhuttl needs in his squad after a difficult start to the season which has seen his side ship six goals, while all three goals they have scored have come from midfielders or defenders.
Reports have suggested that Che Adams could also leave St Mary’s, which again emphasises the need for a new striker, otherwise, Hasenhuttl would be left with very little depth in attack.
Delap could be a superb addition on loan, especially if he can follow in the footsteps of other successful loanees such as Broja and Kyle Walker-Peters in recent seasons.
A loan move could also open the door to a permanent swoop in the future, as we saw with the Walker-Peters deal, so head of recruitment Joe Shields must act quickly to bring him to the south coast after seemingly being handed a golden chance to seal a deal.