Under-pressure Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino wants to spend on a striker this month as he desperately looks to add goals to his team.
Saints will see their coffers boosted by the sale of Virgil van Dijk, although they have had to pay out a large chunk of the initial fee from Liverpool to the Dutchman’s former clubs Celtic, who had a sell-on clause.
And while the Argentinean will look to strengthen his defence as well, the priority is on attacking players and a Saints return for Walcott is something that the club will look at if the price is right.
The former England international’s wages are a stumbling block, with a weekly wage of around £140,000 per week way out of Southampton’s reach. Whether Arsenal are ready to pay a portion of his wages to get him off the books is likely to define if he moves this month.
If Walcott proves to be too expensive then Monaco centre-forward Guido Carrillo is another player that Pellegrino is considering. The 26-year-old striker is a backup with the Ligue 1 side but played under Pellegrino at Estudiantes in his native Argentina.
Carrillo scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s Coupe de France clash with Moulins Yzeure, but has struggled for game time in Ligue 1 where Falcao, Stevan Jovetic and summer signing Balde Keita have started the majority of games.
He is a player that Pellegrino knows and that might be the most important thing for the Saints boss at this juncture. The 5,000 travelling Southampton fans pointedly jeered their manager for his substitutions in the FA Cup win at Fulham, during which they were completely outplayed by a mid-table Championship side, and he admitted afterwards that they had been “dominated” by the Cottagers. The feeling among the support is that the former Rafael Benitez assistant is too conservative.
Pellegrino remained coy once again on the club’s interest in bringing Walcott back to Southampton but admitted earlier in the window that he has four or five targets.
“I think we are on the market ready to try to bring somebody that wants to come. I know that will be difficult because in January it is not easy to bring players.
“The market is huge and I think we have some opportunities. We have four, five or six targets, we have got confidence that someone else can come. There are many players that we have got interest but I can’t say anything. Obviously Walcott is an excellent player but I can’t confirm this.”
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