Southampton have stripped Tottenham-linked midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of the captaincy, head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has announced.
The 24-year-old, who previously outlined his desire to join a Champions League club next season, only has 12 months left on his contract and will not renew.
Therefore, Saints chief executive Martin Semmens admitted that the club could sell him if the right offer arrives.
Speaking at a press conference, Hasenhuttl said: “No, [Hojbjerg] will not be captain. I spoke with him and we had an agreement, and made clear that if you decide not to extend your contract, you will not be captain of this team.
“I’ve spoken to him in the last few days and he knows that he is an important player for this club. I think we have found a good agreement.”
Hasenhuttl confirmed academy graduate James Ward-Prowse would take the armband for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Reports claim Denmark international Hojbjerg is Spurs boss Mourinho’s top target for the upcoming transfer window.
And while Southampton would be willing to let him go, they could ask for around £35million, reports say.
Spurs will be operating on a reduced budget due to the financial impact of football’s recent shutdown.
Indeed, they are the only Premier League club to take out a Bank of England loan worth £175million.
Spurs also placed non-playing staff on furlough for two weeks before reversing the decision.
Hojbjerg has been a virtual ever-present in Southampton’s midfield this season, playing in 28 of 29 Premier League matches.
Tottenham are in need of another defensive midfielder following Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele’s departures.
Eric Dier has also struggled for form, switching to centre-back on occasion this term.
TOTTENHAM TO RESTART ON FRIDAY
Tottenham resume their Premier League campaign on Friday by hosting Manchester United.
Spurs have Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – among others – back from injury, but Giovani Lo Celso is a fitness concern.
Mourinho’s men had not won in six matches prior to the break in the season.
United also have players back, with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba recovering.