Marseille have entered the race for key Southampton target Vitinha in what could be a major blow for Nathan Jones, according to reports.
The English manager has been eyeing attacking recruits as he looks to stave off the threat of relegation and the Braga striker represents a potentially exciting option.
However, their deal is now in danger of being hijacked after the French giants registered a late interest in the Brazilian.
The Saints have endured a horrific start to the season and currently find themselves bottom of the Premier League table after winning just four of their 20 opening matches.
As a result, Jones has been looking to add reinforcements to his squad this winter. Southampton have already brought in three new players in Luton Town defender James Bree, Argentine midfielder Carlos Alcaraz and Croatia international Mislav Orsic.
They are also in talks with Rennes winger Kamaldeen Sulemana after having a £22m bid accepted, with the player now set to choose between them and Everton in what could be a stunning deadline day move.
However, that is not the only business they are looking to do today and as reported by Sky Sports News, both Southampton and Marseille are willing to pay Vitinha’s £26m release clause to get a late deal over the line.
The decision, however, will be down to Vitinha, meaning that the Saints have now done everything they can with two big deals, but could still be let down by both player’s choices.
Vitinha would represent an excellent addition after the 22-year-old has impressed for in Portugal, scoring 13 goals in 27 games across all competitions this season.
He is also widely touted to have huge potential and made his debut for Portugal’s under-21s team in late 2021.
It is no secret that Saints boss Jones is looking to bring in another striker as we enter the final hours of the transfer window.
The south coast club have been previously linked with the likes of Terem Moffi, Moussa Dembele and Antoine Semenyo, but have now settled on Vitinha as their first choice.
Che Adams has been Southampton’s main centre forward this season, scoring eight goals in 25 appearances across all competitions.
However, with backup options Adam Armstrong and Sekou Mara failing to give Jones any selection headaches, there is a clear need for reinforcements in that area.
Marseille, on the other hand, are also desperate to sign a new centre-forward. Les Phoceens’ main striker Alexis Sanchez is now 34 and they currently don’t have any other natural forwards in their squad to back him up.
As a result, they are also doing everything they can to sign Vitinha today, so it will be a straight shootout between the them and the Saints for the Braga player.
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