Southampton - Adieu Rickie Lambert ?

Southampton are said to have told West Ham to put up or shut up in their pursuit of Rickie Lambert.

Southampton striker Lambert has been linked with a move to West Ham for the best part of a year, and Southampton appear to be doing little to discourage talk of a transfer.

The Telegraph reports that Southampton have told West Ham that if they are serious in signing Lambert, they will need to cough up £8m.

Lambert is one of several reported targets for the struggling Hammers, who have been blighted by the absence of striker Andy Carroll through injury all season.

It's a deal that makes sense, at least from a West Ham perspective. Age hasn't proven to be a deterrent in West Ham's previous transfers, although at 31, £8m may prove too much of an ask for the club's owners. But Lambert's all-round play and stocky physique makes him an able target-man, capable of creating chances for others and for himself, as well as putting the ball in the back of the net.

So what does this mean for Southampton, and Lambert ?

Lambert, 31, has long been seen as the talisman of Southampton Football Club. Wearing the club's legendary #7 shirt, and being at the forefront of the club's charge up the leagues has earned him hero status among the fans. But with Jay Rodriguez blossoming and big money signing Dani Osvaldo also arriving at St. Mary's in the summer, it hints that Lambert's time with the south coast club could be approaching its end.

Lambert had endured a tough spell, but has recently rediscovered his shooting boots with goals against both Cardiff City and Tottenham Hotspur. Lambert currently has six goals this campaign, having registered 15 Premier League goals in his debut season in the top flight last term.

Lambert signed a new three-year deal with the club in March 2013, before stating his desire to end his career with the Saints

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino hasn't publicly commented on the Lambert situation, but has gone on record to reiterate that the club will not be selling any important first team players. Make of that what you will.

image: © dom fellowes

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