Southampton are resigned to losing influential midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin this summer, but will make Manchester United cough up £27m if they are to take the France international on a permanent transfer.
The 25-year-old has been linked with a move away from St Mary’s this summer after the club denied him an exit last year when Tottenham came calling. That interest from White Hart Lane has faded, along with Arsenal and Liverpool withdrawing themselves from the race to land the Schneiderlin, and has cleared the path for United to make an unopposed move.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman has already revealed that United made an opening offer, but the south coast club were far from impressed by the £20m bid and told United to come back with a “serious offer”.
Having initially set his asking price at £30m, the club are reported to be willing to reduce their valuation of Schneiderlin to £27m, but will make United up their offer if they want to seal the move before they disembark on their four-match US tour on 13 July.
Despite the club marking out Schneiderlin as one of the most important players in recent years, there’s a perception that Southampton remains a selling club, as demonstrated by last season’s exits of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Callum Chambers. With Schneiderlin set to follow them out of the door, it raises questions once again over who the club are willing to sell each season, but Koeman admits that in the case of Schneiderlin, the writing is on the wall given last year’s rejection of Spurs’s interest.
“Every player has his price and we have experience as a club of selling players,” Koeman said.
“Last season we sold some players, and if there is interest in Morgan then OK. But it has to be at the price the club wants. He is one of the key players or our team, an international player. And I don’t think is a problem for Manchester United.”
Koeman also admitted that he is planning for the new season without the talented Frenchman in his squad.
“No. I know the situation. I have spoken a lot with Morgan,” Koeman added. “Last season we finally said: ‘Stop all this business because we are not selling any more players’. That was difficult for him but he came back after a few days with good motivation and had a great season. But we know the situation now.
“There is a lot of interest in the player. With a club like United, we know it’s difficult to keep the player. But if they pay, then OK, we can make the transfer.”
Having secured the signature of former FC Twente defender Cuco Martina on Tuesday, Southampton are set to press on with their transfer plans, and Koeman has already sounded out Feyenoord midfielder Jordy Clasie as a replacement for United-bound Schneiderlin.
“He’s a good player, a young player and a Dutch international who is ready to make a step up and show his qualities at a higher level than we have in the Dutch league,” he said.
“He’s growing in his leadership qualities too and, if Morgan goes, we’ll need a player in that position. He is one of them [on the list of potential replacements].”
Saints could yet be dragged into a legal battle over the transfer of a player who spent last season on loan with them, after it emerged yesterday that Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld was undergoing a medical at Spurs despite an agreement suggesting that he is not allowed to do so.
As part of the deal to take the Belgium utility defender on loan, Saints could pay £6.5m to make the move permanent, while Atletico could pay £1.5m to remove the clause from the agreement. However, the Spanish club are said to have missed the date with which they needed to do this by, and under Saints’ understanding Alderweireld is not yet eligible to undergo a medical or discuss a move with Spurs.
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