Mark Hughes may still be in a job at Southampton, but it appears that the end is nigh for the beleaguered boss following reports that the struggling Saints have been in touch with a former Championship manager.
Former Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim has been linked, as have Birmingham boss Garry Monk, and ex-Watford gaffer Quique Sanchez Flores, who burst into the betting on Wednesday.
However, rumours are rife that the Saints have held talks with Paulo Sousa, the former Swansea, Leicester, and QPR manager who was last seen over in the Chinese Super League with Tianjin Quanjian.
The Times reports that the Portuguese coach is being lined-up to replace Hughes, and can now be found as the evens favourite in the next Southampton manager market - up until late on Wednesday he didn’t even feature in the betting.
The 48-year-old oversaw QPR for 26 games during the 2008/09 campaign, followed by a spell at Swansea where he led the club to their (then) highest finish in 27 years (7th, Championship, 2009/10), before darting off to Leicester, where he would last only a dozen games in the dugout, winning just one league game.
All three of those spells were in the Championship, the last of which was eight years ago, while Sousa would go on to manage Maccabi Tel Aviv, Basel, Fiorentina, and most recently Chinese outfit Tianjin Quanjian, a position he held between November 2017 and October 2018.
Saints are owned by Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng who has now rumoured to have set his sights on Sousa following his availability in the managerial arena, with the boss said to have been present at Southampton’s 3-2 defeat to Fulham.