A major update has emerged on Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse regarding Aston Villa’s intentions this summer.
According to Football Insider, Villa are preparing to submit a club-record transfer offer to the Saints for their captain. Villa are bracing themselves for the loss of Jack Grealish and are going to make a gigantic bid for Ward-Prowse in the coming weeks.
The report claims that the bid will exceed the amount of money they have committed to spending on Emi Buendia, which means that their planned offer for Ward-Prowse will be above the club-record £33m they paid Norwich for the Argentine playmaker.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl lavished praise on the “outstanding” Ward-Prowse at the end of last season. He told the Daily Echo: “It’s not surprising for me, a player who played every minute this season is unbelievable.
“His physicality and his performances are outstanding. That’s our captain on the pitch and he is on the way that he is a very important player for this club for the long term, I think.”
Southampton fans would surely be livid with the club if they allowed Ward-Prowse to depart from St Mary’s to join Villa this summer. It would be a bitter blow for the Saints to watch their reigning Player of the Season walk away to sign for one of their Premier League rivals, with both clubs finishing in the bottom half in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns. Therefore, Saints CEO Martin Semmens is facing a disaster with this news as it is a difficult situation for him.
The club announced a net loss of £76m earlier this year because of the financial impact of the global pandemic over the past 18 months, along with the club’s other business with player trading and wages. This means that there could an attraction to cashing in one of Hasenhuttl’s stars this summer to fill the hole in the club’s finances. As much as Semmens will want to provide the manager with the best squad he possibly can, he also has to manage the financial aspect of the club, and selling Ward-Prowse for a huge fee could be a massive boost to the Saints’ bank balance.
That being said, the uproar it would cause among the Southampton fanbase makes it almost impossible to consider. The £75,000-per-week beast was the team’s highest-rated player on WhoScored last season, with an average score of 7.07 as he played every single minute in the Premier League. This highlights how important he is to the Saints on the pitch, along with his status as club captain.
This is why Semmens must avoid a grave error this summer and reject any interest in Ward-Prowse from Villa, regardless of how much they offer. The 26-year-old has four years left to run on his current deal at St Mary’s and the Saints do not need to rush to cash in on him.
Whilst the financial side is a concern, Southampton should be looking to make up the shortfall by offloading outcasts – such as Angus Gunn to Norwich for £5m – instead of upsetting the fanbase by selling a key player.