Southampton face a battle to keep star striker Graziano Pelle, after Italian champions Juventus sent scouts to watch him over the weekend.
Pelle has caught the attention of Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri after scoring nine goals in 17 games for Saints this season, although he failed to register in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Sunderland.
The Italy striker was Ronald Koeman’s first signing after taking charge at St Mary’s at the start of last season following an £8million move from the Dutchman’s old club Feyenoord – and the player has since gone on to become a regular starter for his country.
The player would likely command a minimum £30million fee in the transfer market.
Koeman would be reluctant to lose Pelle after labelling him “one of the best strikers in the Premier League” recently.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror last month, the Southampton boss said: “He’s a very complete striker, he’s not only physically strong, he knows what happens around him, has good technique, is tall but he’s not slow, his co-ordination’s very good.
“He’s clever in the box, has a good header, is a good finisher, and is in my opinion one of the best.”
Before the weekend’s 1-0 win at Sunderland, Pelle labelled Saints’ three-pronged attack a thing of beauty.
Pelle has formed a deadly combination with Serbian Dusan Tadic and Senegalese forward Sadio Mane.
He said: “Tadic and Mane are really good players. Two very different players, but that is beautiful because you can expect different things from us.
“I hope we keep going and I’m sure we will, because they are good players.
“At the moment I am in good form but it won’t be enough. I have to keep going and keep the goal numbers going until the end of the season. Otherwise it will not be worth it, all this hard work.”
What do you think Pelle is worth? Discuss his link to Juventus, and other Saints issues, on our new-look Southampton Your Say forum.