Southampton have rejected a £ 25m bid from Aston Villa for midfielder and captain James Ward-Prowse.
It was revealed in early June that Villa are keen to hit a deal for Ward-Prowse, who manager Dean Smith has identified as a priority target due to both his Premier League experience and the fact that he would not have to adapt to life in England. .
Ward-Prowse was close to making England’s Euro 2020 squad / Visionhaus / Getty Images
It has taken a while to move from there, but The Athletics’ David Ornstein has now revealed that an opening bid of £ 25 million has been made by Villa to try to get the ball rolling again.
However, things are back again when Southampton turned down the offer immediately. The Saints were almost offended by the value of the bid and it was emphasized that Villa would have to do much better if Southampton were to even consider selling Ward-Prowse.
Villa are expected to return with a second offer, but how much they are willing to pay for Ward-Prowse is unclear. They have already splashed out £ 33m on Emi Buendia and may need to offer more than that to land the Saints captain, who still has four years left on his contract.
There is no suggestion that Villa will leave this deal without fighting. Club analysts have compiled plenty of data to prove how effective Ward-Prowse would be on the squad and there is a feeling that Smith really wants to land the 26-year-old in time for the new season.
Unfortunately for Smith, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is just as determined to keep Ward-Prowse. He has already confirmed that he wants more depth in midfield and will be reluctant to lose such an important part of his squad to a direct rival.
Hasenhuttl plans to retain Ward-Prowse / NAOMI BAKER / Getty Images
It is worth noting that Villas’ quest for Ward-Prowse has nothing to do with the future of Jack Grealish, who has been offered a new contract but is also being chased by Manchester City.
City have made a £ 100m bid for Grealish and hope to persuade him to leave his side, and although Villa would likely have to replace the Englishman if he leaves, interest in Ward-Prowse goes back long before that bid came.