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Southampton are broadening their search for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s replacement, with £25 million-rated Stuttgart enforcer Orel Mangala the latest man linked, according to reports from Echo24.

While it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl and co are prioritising another German-based ball-winner, it makes sense to hedge their bets somewhat.

Sky claimed last week that the Saints had opened talks with Schalke over a potential £20 million deal for USA international Weston McKennie.

Every Club’s MOST EXCITING Transfer Target This Summer

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Every Club’s MOST EXCITING Transfer Target This Summer
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But considering that what seems like half the Premier League have been linked with McKennie over the last few weeks, Southampton need alternative options.

One of those appears to be Mangala, a 22-year-old Belgian who, despite spending last season in the second tier of German football, is expected to cost around £5 million more than Schalke are demanding for their prized asset.

Southampton will not have it easy here either, with Lyon, Nice, Marseille and, according to Alfredo Pedulla, Champions League quarter-finalists Atalanta all targeting the Belgium U21 international.

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Mangala, who spent time on loan at Dortmund in 2016/17 and rose through Anderlecht’s famed youth academy, boasts a pass success rate of 88 per cent – a figure that blows Hojbjerg’s (78 per cent) out of the water.

At 22, he is also the kind of young, raw talent that Hasenhuttl, a coach who transformed Naby Keita, Timo Werner, Jack Stephens and more, loves to work with.

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In other news, Liverpool and Manchester City starting lineups confirmed as three key players return at Anfield