Contact made: Southampton make first move to sign new versatile free agent for Martin

Southampton have reportedly made a first move to sign an in-demand free agent for manager Russell Martin.

Who did Southampton sign this summer?

The Saints have had a busy few months both on and off the pitch following relegation from the Premier League to the Championship last season.

Martin came in as the club’s new manager and wasted no time in adding to the squad. At the end of the window, Southampton brought in a total of eight new players.

Shea Charles and Ross Stewart commanded relatively big fees for a second-tier side from Manchester City and Sunderland, whereas Ryan Manning and Joe Lumley arrived on free transfers.

Meanwhile, four Premier League players – Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Mason Holgate, Flynn Downes and Ryan Fraser – signed on loan from Manchester City, Everton, West Ham United and Newcastle United.

There were also a number of departures, with Southampton bringing in over £150m in player sales. The likes of Romeo Lavia, Tino Livramento, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Tella, Mohammed Salisu, Moussa Djenepo and Mislav Orsic all made permanent exits.

Martin was looking forward to the prospect of focusing on football and not the transfer window, though, saying:

“The best bit of the job is when you get to work with the players on the grass. The fewer disruptions you have, the bigger the focus is from the players.

“I think as a club we’ve navigated through this window of change so well. But we will still improve and the window shutting will definitely help with that.”

However, despite the window slamming shut at the beginning of the month, it looks as if the Saints are still looking at possibly adding to their squad in the free-agent market.

According to TEAMtalk, midfielder Xeka is attracting plenty of interest in England, with Southampton and Championship rivals West Brom making enquiries to the player’s agent.

Alongside the second-tier sides, Xeka is also being looked at by Everton, Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers as well as clubs in France, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

Who is Xeka?

Xeka is 28 years of age and can play as a central, holding or left midfielder, so would provide a versatile option at St Mary’s.

The Portuguese midfielder is valued at €6m by Transfermarkt and is best known for his time in France with Lille. He made 144 appearances for the Ligue 1 side, contributing to 16 goals, and has also represented the likes of Stade Rennes, Braga, Dijon and SC Covilha throughout his career.

Xeka has been without a club since the middle of August, and as per fBref, the player has been compared to former Saints midfielder Oriol Romeu, now with FC Barcelona, over the past 365 days.

He has ranked in the top 4% for pass completion, top 6% for blocks and top 8% for passes blocked, so he could prove to be a shrewd pick up for whatever club manages to secure his services, and by the looks of things, Southampton are trying to do just that.

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