Leandro Damiao's potential move to English football has become a "saga without end," according to one Brazilian analyst this week, as suggestions of interest from ambitious Premier League side Southampton emerged.
The Internacional striker, now 23, has been tipped to move to England for two years. Until this summer, it was Tottenham Hotspur who were repeatedly seen as "close" to securing his services. They, though, would appear to have cooled their interest.
According to reports from Terra just a few days ago, the only recent offer for Damiao's services in recent times had come from a European club—with Marseille and Napoli as rumoured suitors (Portuguese).
However, the report went on to add that Inter have now set a €25 million asking price for the player's services.
"In order for Internacional to consider any offer for Leandro Damiao, it would need to be around €25 million," club president Giovanni Luigi is quoted as telling Radio Guaiba.
However, that does not appear to have deterred interest from Southampton, whose manager, Mauricio Pochettino, openly admitted interest in the striker earlier this week.
"We manage a lot of information about very good players," stated Pochettino. "One of them is Damiao, also Banega and Wanyama.
"We are not interested in 15 or 20 players. We are interested in maybe two or three key players...We are managing when these players are going to be signed and how we sign them." (ESPNfc)
Promising talk, indeed, if you happen to be a supporter of the Saints. However, it must be stressed that there is a major difference between retaining an interest in a player and securing their signature.
And so it stands at present. Southampton are being told that they would need to spend €25 million to secure the Brazilian striker—who would no doubt be an upgrade on Rickie Lambert. The English side, though, are probably hoping for a fee in the region of €18-20 million.
Whether an agreement that suits both parties can be reached remains to be seen. With clever use of add-ons and bonuses, perhaps, both team's expectations can be met. At the same time, Southampton may consider the extra money worth paying to secure a much sought-after player.
Internacional, though, know that they are in the driving seat in the negotiation. They have no financial difficulties following the €15 million sale of attacking midfielder Fred to Shakhtar Donetsk last month and will only sell Damiao if convinced that it is in their long-term interests.
It will be interesting to see how the potential transfer plays out. For the moment, though, Southampton fans are right to be excited, but they should endeavour to keep expectations at realistic levels.
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