In Focus: Southampton face a battle to convince Alcacer to make St Mary’s move

According to reports in The Mirror, Southampton have opened talks with Barcelona over a January move for striker Paco Alcacer, but they could face competition from French side Lille for his signature.

What’s the word, then?

Well, The Mirror says that Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino is desperate to bolster his attack after his team have scored just seven goals – three of which came from the penalty spot – in their nine matches in all competitions this season.

Nine points from seven Premier League games has certainly put the Argentine under pressure considering the favourable fixtures the south coast outfit had on paper, and he is keen to bring the out-of-favour Alcacer to St Mary’s in the New Year.

However, The Mirror says that the 24-year-old is not yet sold on the potential move, which has prompted interest from Lille.

How has Alcacer done this season?

He has pretty much been frozen out by Barca boss Ernesto Valverde since starting the first La Liga match of the season against Real Betis in August.

He has played just 33 minutes of football in all competitions from that opening day appearance and he hasn’t even made the Catalan giants’ matchday squad in three of their last four league games.

It looks certain that the Spain international will be leaving the Camp Nou in January, but it remains to be seen whether he would be willing to join Southampton.

Why wouldn’t he want to join?

The fact that the 2018 World Cup is just around the corner could well be a factor, as the 24-year-old would know that it would be a huge risk to move to a new country when he is looking to find the form that may see him named in Spain’s squad for the finals.

That said, he must also consider that he needs to be playing on a regular basis and moving to a Southampton side that is struggling for goals should mean that he does that, and he would subsequently have more chance of finding some form – just as Manolo Gabbiadini did when he first joined the south coast outfit at the start of this year.

What’s the verdict?

While Saints will hope that they can get a deal over the line for Alcacer in the New Year following his previous form for Valencia, it seems they have a lot of work to do to convince the player that it will be the best move for his career right now.