Southampton are keen to sign Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson in January as a replacement for exit-bound Virgil van Dijk, according to the Sun on Sunday.
The newspaper claim (print edition, page 61, 24 December) claims that the Premier League side have set their sights on Jansson, 26, as they prepare for life without Van Dijk.
The Sun report that Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson is the Saints’ other principal centre-back target ahead of the January window.
Leeds have now become caught up in a transfer saga that is still playing out from the summer, when Liverpool had to publicly withdraw from the race to sign Van Dijk.
The Times has reported that Manchester City and Arsenal are ready to challenge the Merseysiders next month for Van Dijk,who is rated at what would be a world-record fee for a defender of £70 million.
Jansson is a talismanic figure at Leeds and is a key player in their promotion challenge.
Good move for Leeds?
Not in January, no, even if Leeds were able to secure a £20million-plus fee for a player who was axed from the team only a month or so ago. Offloading Jansson would immediately weaken the starting XI and possibly terminate any hopes they have of securing a top-six finish. Jansson is the club’s finest centre-back and one of the best in the Championship. He is commanding, committed and canny. And has the potential to get even better.
This Is Futbol rating 4/10
Likely to happen?
If Southampton sell Van Dijk next month – and it appears a genuine possibility – and make a concerted bid to sign Jansson, then all bets are off. Leeds are in a relatively strong position to hold out for big money as the immensely popular Swede recently signed a new five-year contract. But if Jansson pushes hard to leave, expect the club to cave in and sell.
This Is Futbol rating 7/10