Man Utd and Liverpool circle Saints stars Shaw and Lallana
Southampton's young England stars could move on for a combined fee of almost £50m
THE football season has ended and the World Cup is looming, two sure signs that the holiday season is almost upon us. Another sign that summer has arrived is the usual welter of scare stories about sharks sighted off the south coast, and this year fans of Southampton have every reason to believe them.
No sooner had Saints stars Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana been named in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad than they were being circled by predators.
First up is teenage sensation Shaw (above), who has pushed Ashley Cole into international retirement and is now the subject of an eye-watering offer of £27m from Manchester United, according to the Daily Telegraph. United are determined to rebuild their squad after their worst Premier League season, says the paper, and incoming manager Louis Van Gaal will make the signing of Shaw his priority when he arrives at Old Trafford.
Chelsea and Man City are also interested, but with Financial Fair Play worries hanging over them United are, ironically, in position to outbid them.
Meanwhile, the Saints are also facing the prospect of losing their captain, Lallana, who is wanted by Premier League runners-up Liverpool. The midfielder is a relatively late bloomer, and at 26 is older than other recent Southampton products Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but he broke through last season, earning his place in the England World Cup squad and winning plaudits for his elegant play.
And according to the BBC that has prompted Liverpool to make an offer for the player, and the Daily Mail backs up that theory claiming that Lallana could be unveiled on Merseyside as early as next week with a £20m deal in the pipeline.
There may not have been much drama on the final day of the season, but it was a wonderful weekend for transfer tittle-tattle with more exclusives flying around than there were tears at Anfield. First up is the Daily Mirror's claim that Arsenal are "on alert" for Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez. Admittedly it's not the first time in recent days that the Gunners have been likened to a guard dog on patrol but the Mirror swears blind that manager Arsene Wenger has been "tipped off" that the 25-year-old Chilean winger will be allowed to leave the Camp Nou this summer.
Barcelona are hoping to spark a bidding war between Arsenal and Juventus with the starting price for Sanchez likely to be in the region of £20m. The former Udinese striker has spent the last three seasons with Barca but the Mirror claims he would like more game time and sees the Gunners as a great place to start afresh. Apparently Wenger believes Sanchez "fits neatly into their style", which presumably means he's red hot for six months, hopeless in March but comes good again in the last month of the season.
Meanwhile the Daily Star's exclusive looks, at first glance, as bizarre as a bearded Austrian drag queen. But if he – or she – can win the Eurovision song contest than perhaps Wenger really is mulling over a move for Gareth Barry. The Star claims that the Nutty Professor will decide this week whether to firm up his interest in the former England midfielder. Now 33, Barry is in the twilight of his career but his consistent performances for Everton this season – while on loan from newly-crowned champions Manchester City – have got Wegner wondering whether Barry could be a bargain buy this summer. He leaves City on a free transfer this month, and though Everton manager Roberto Martinez is "anxious" to sign him full-time the Star says Wenger's interest may turn Barry's head.
Still with Arsenal and the Sunday People reckons that the Gunners are gearing up for a swoop on Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall. The Scottish shotstopper will apparently be brought to the Emirates by Wenger to provide Wojciech Szczesny with competition for his place. The People says Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn't want to see the 29-year-old Marshall leave but recognises that he will "be powerless in the face of a hefty £8m bid".
The Sun's exclusive is that Danny Welbeck will be "offered a new deal" by Manchester United in order to ward off interest from, among others, Arsenal. Rumours emerged last month suggesting that the England striker was considering his options at Old Trafford after their less than impressive season. But with Louis van Gaal set to be unveiled as United's new boss this week, the Sun says the club have told Welbeck "his future is a priority". The 23-year-old has two years to run on his current £75,000-a-week deal and it appears the United board will begin talks imminently to tie Welbeck to the club beyond 2016.
The Daily Telegraph weighs in with its own exclusive, claiming that Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra will join fellow United defender Nemanja Vidic at Inter Milan next season. According to the Telegraph a deal for the 32-year-old Frenchman, who is out of contract this summer, has been "finalised with the Italian club".