Report: Southampton eye one-time Manchester United target Leo Baptistao

Mauricio Pellegrino, Manager of Southampton looks on prior to the Premier League match between Southampton and Burnley at St Mary's Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Southampton, England.

Leo Baptistao's form at Espanyol has reportedly attracted the attention of Southampton.

Rayo Vallecano's Brazilian forward Leo Baptistao celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Atletico Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano at the Vicente Calderon stadium in...

Leo Baptistao’s move to the Premier League has been a long time in coming.

Back in January 2013, The Mail reported that Manchester United had sent scout Martin Ferguson to watch Rayo Vallecano’s 20-year-old striking sensation in action for the La Liga club.

The Brazilian youngster, who once played alongside Neymar in his homeland, was also on the radar of Liverpool after scoring six times in 17 games in Spain’s top flight – stepping into the void left by none other than Michu following his departure to Swansea City the previous summer.

Five years on, however, Baptistao is back among the gossip columns. Manchester United and Liverpool may no longer be interested these days in a player whose career has never really taken off but Baptistao still has plenty of admirers.

Leo Baptistao of RCD Espanyol celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Real Sporting de Gijon at Cornella-El Prat stadium on...

According to Calciomercato, Serie A high-flyers Roma see the 25-year-old as a potential back up option for Edin Dzeko. But a move to England could be on the cards again with Southampton also mulling over a January move.

England bound at last?

Prior to Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing of a dismal Everton side, The Saints had struggled for goals this season. And The Mail reports that Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long, who has not scored since the spring, may even be sold in January.

The money raised from their exits could fund a move for Baptistao, whose buyout clause at current club Espanyol is understood to be around £24 million – which would make him Southampton’s record signing.

Jonny Castro of RC Celta de Vigo competes for the ball with Leo Baptistao of RCD Espanyol during the La Liga match between Espanyol and Celta de Vigo at Cornella-El Prat stadium  on...

A rangy and deceptively skilful striker, Baptistao has never been the most prolific of goalscorers however. He has just three in 12 starts for Espanyol this season and has never hit double figures in Spain’s top flight.

But his drilling ability, skill and vision could make him a versatile and creative threat to a Southampton side who have looked a little toothless in attack.

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