Southampton and West Ham United are both showing an interest in an attacking midfielder who has already had a spell with one of them, according to reports.
The two Premier League clubs have slightly differing expectations for the current season. West Ham are involved in European football and are aiming to consolidate a top-half place domestically. Southampton, on the other hand, could be in a relegation battle if they aren’t careful.
Despite their alternative expectations, the two clubs are apparently both in a transfer battle for the same player – along with several other sides across Europe.
Filip Djuricic, who spent half a season on loan at Southampton in 2015, is the man in question. He only made nine appearances in his previous spell on the South Coast, but a return has now become a possibility.
According to Calciomercato, Southampton are one of the suitors for the Sassuolo number 10, whose contract expires in 2022.
Djuricic is subsequently available for a free transfer next summer, which could even be negotiated in advance in January unless Sassuolo find a way to renew his contract.
The Serbian international has established himself as an important player in Serie A. So far this season, he has provided two goals and one assist from eight games. In total, from 96 appearances in a Sassuolo shirt since 2018, he has contributed 14 goals and 12 assists.
His form has been much better than what he previously demonstrated with Southampton. Therefore, they have not been put off a potential reunion.
However, Calciomercato add that West Ham would also be willing to take him to the Premier League.
The Hammers were looking for an extra attacking midfielder in the summer. Jesse Lingard made a big impact on loan in the second half of last season, but they could not get him to return.
Nikola Vlasic joined the club on deadline day instead, but is yet to find a rhythm. Therefore, they could still consider an additional option.
Djuricic has European suitors too
However, it is not a given that Djuricic’s next step will take him to the Premier League.
The report from Calciomercato adds that the Serie A trio of Inter, Milan and Napoli would all like to offer him a different platform in his current league.
Further afield, Shakhtar Donetsk could offer him a reunion with ex-Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi.
At the age of 29, Djuricic knows his next move will be one of the most important of what remains of his career. Therefore, he has plenty to weigh up between now and the end of his contract.
By that point, it seems Southampton and West Ham will both be in contention to sign him. And it is not the only transfer battle in which they could be going head to head…