July 20, 2024

Russell Martin has welcomed his Southampton players back for pre-season this week, having signed a new contract on Tuesday that extends his stay until 2027.Southampton set to lose three key players this summer

It has been a solid start to the summer on the transfer front, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Ronnie Edwards and Charlie Taylor all signing permanently to bolster the backline.

36-year-old veteran Adam Lallana has also returned to the club for whom he made his name following the expiration of his Brighton deal and now it looks as though Southampton will continue to pursue a winger they had reportedly walked away from.

Southampton ‘retain’ interest in Sunderland’s Jack Clarke

Southampton have been long-term admirers of Sunderland winger Jack Clarke, who has been one of the best players in the Championship for the past two seasons.

However, journalist Alan Nixon recently claimed via his Patreon that the Saints were ready to walk away from a deal for Clarke, with Sunderland’s £18 million price tag deemed excessive for the 23-year-old.

Southampton are also credited with interest in Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson, as well as Jobe Bellingham, but Clarke is the most likely to move on this summer.

Despite Southampton appearing to have turned their back on a move for Clarke, latest reports suggest they could still return for the wide man, as The Northern Echo claim the Saints ‘retain a really strong interest in Clarke’.

It won’t be made easy for them, though, as despite a suggestion that Sunderland will sell if the price is right, their sporting director Kristjaan Speakman told The Northern Echo: “I can reiterate our strategy, and our intent is to retain our top talent.”

Clarke top target as Southampton pursue wingers this summer

Both Ryan Fraser and David Brooks joined the club on loan last season to add depth and quality to the wings and whilst Fraser is expected to return this summer, Brooks is not.

Even if Fraser joins, that leaves Martin with just Fraser, Samuel Edozie and Kamaldeen Sulemana as natural senior wingers; the latter likely to be sold this summer.

Adam Armstrong predominately played wide last season so perhaps should be considered a winger within the context of Martin’s squad, but they are still currently short on options on the flanks.

Speaking on Clarke after the youngster played a starring role in a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers early last season, then-manager Tony Mowbray was full of praise for Clarke, saying: “He was amazing tonight.

“Scored two great goals, earned the penalty, he stuck it away, which shows the confidence level he’s got to stand up and take the penalty, and the composure for his second goal.

“But not just the goal. The more the game went on, the more this team knows to give it to Clarke who can run it 40 yards up the pitch, he can cut inside, pass it to people in the box, he can shoot.

“He’s a super talent, he’s a great kid and I don’t apologise for shouting at him and telling him he has to work hard because all the best players work harder than anybody else and their talent shines through.”

It is for that reason that it is no surprise that the club retain their interest in Clarke despite his £18 million price tag and the fact they have not walked away from a deal despite baulking at the valuation shows he is the primary winger target this summer.

With 40 Championship goal contributions in the past two seasons at Sunderland, it is not difficult to see why.

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