Southampton have placed a “not for sale” sign on James Ward-Prowse amid interest from Aston Villa.
Villa boss Dean Smith is reshaping his midfield this summer and wants Ward-Prowse to follow Norwich’s Argentine midfielder Emi Buendia to Villa Park.
Villa are believed to have agreed a club-record £33m deal for Buendia. And next on Smith’s target list is set-piece king Ward-Prose, according to the Guardian.
The Mail claim Villa will test the resolve of Saints this week, but the paper reports that the south-coast club have no intention in selling the England man.
Saints tied Ward-Prowse to a new five-year deal last summer. He has also played in every single minute of their Premier League season for the second campaign running.
The 26-year-old skipper returned eight goals and seven assists and got very close to England’s Euro 2020 squad. He was named in the 33-man party, but was then omitted by Gareth Southgate, despite playing against Austria and Romania.
The injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold then left the door ajar for a late call-up. Ward-Prowse put in a sterling performance against Romania in the 1-0 win on Sunday. But Southgate, who gave Ward-Prowse a big pat on the back on Sunday after he was substituted, has called up Ben White.
Eight-cap Ward-Prowse can consider himself unlucky not to make the tournament squad.
It wasn’t just his dead-balls which impressed former England striker Ian Wright at Middlesbrough.
“He is tigerish getting in and around it. There are not many England players who I have seen in an England shirt getting in and winning balls like he does.”
It will leave Ward-Prowse kicking his heels at home with Villa expected to make a move for him.