It has been reported that Southampton have told captain and star player James Ward-Prowse that he is free to leave the club in the summer if the club are relegated from the Premier League. The Saints are planted at the bottom of the table and with each passing game the likelihood of Championship football next year increases.
Therefore it is understandable that the club would be willing to let their star midfielder leave in the summer because he will command a substantial fee which can help guide the Saints through the financial disparity of the top flight and the second tier.
As a player who has been capped by the England national team and an outstanding set-piece specialist, there will be several clubs interested in hearing that the player could be available in the summer.
Premier League clubs always circle relegated teams like vultures to pinch their best players for cut-price fees and it won’t be just Southampton that they will be keeping tabs on in the coming weeks. Here are players from the other current bottom five clubs that rivals might make an approach for at the end of the season.
James Maddison - Leicester City
James Maddison has long been tipped for a big move to clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and he has been heavily linked with Newcastle United since their takeover in 2021. He has been a standout player for the Foxes during his time at the King Power Stadium and has been a regular source of goals and assists, even with Leicester spiralling in the past two seasons. The Englishman would still have a lot to offer in the Premier League and the right club could help take his game to the next level, especially a club competing for European football on a regular basis.
Brennan Johnson & Morgan Gibbs-White - Nottingham Forest
It has been a whirlwind year for Nottingham Forest upon their return to the Premier League. Steve Cooper made a whopping 30 signings but it hasn’t been enough to keep the Tricky Trees out of a relegation battle. One of their best signings has been attacking midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White, who has made a good impression in the top-flight after a stellar loan spell with Sheffield United in the Championship in 2021-22. He has been a source for goals and assists for the East Midlands outfit this term and looks more than capable of thriving at this level.
The other player is homegrown talent, Wales international Brennan Johnson, who looks like a player who has the potential to go to the very top. He can score and create goals and at 21 years of age, he will be seen as a valuable long-term asset.
Amadou Onana & Jordan Pickford - Everton
Everton fans have had to endure another campaign of looking over their shoulder as the club’s decline continues. Despite a largely disappointing season, there have been two players who have been impressive even when results were not going their way. Amadou Onana has been catching the eye in midfield and after one year in English football has already gained the attention of clubs higher in the Premier League table as well as abroad. He has shown the attributes of a midfielder that can shine at a higher level and should the Toffees go down, they can expect many approaches for the Belgian.
Jordan Pickford has been a standout player for Everton during this period of decline and given that he is England’s first choice goalkeeper, he is a great operator at this level and will no doubt be one of the first players out the door if the club drop down a division. He has been linked on many occasions with Tottenham Hotspur who are looking for a long-term successor for Hugo Lloris.
Wilfried Gnonto & Jack Harrison - Leeds United
Leeds United are once again looking over their shoulder in the top flight. The defensive issues that were created from Marcelo Bielsa’s free-flowing football continued under Jesse Marsch and the defence is now in crisis, conceding 11 goals in their last two home fixtures.
Winger Wilfried Gnonto has been a bright spark since his introduction to the team during the campaign and the young Italian is an exciting prospect who has the potential to have a prosperous career. With pace and trickery in his locker, there are clubs always crying out for talent such as his to bolster their forward line. The same goes for fellow wide man Jack Harrison, who has been a competent attacker at this level since Leeds’ promotion. He may have just signed a new long-term deal with the club but he was very close to a January move to Leicester City, which would suggest a transfer could be on the cards if his side were relegated.