Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed the club were looking at Timothy Castagne as a potential transfer target before he signed for Leicester City.
Castagne joined Leicester for a fee of around £18m last summer after impressing for Atalanta and it appears that Saints saw him as a potential addition. However, as Hasenhuttl explains, the gap between the Foxes and his own club made it difficult to secure a deal.
Speaking ahead of Saints’ clash with Leicester in the Premier League on Friday evening, he said (via the Daily Echo):
"“But I only remember the summer when we had an eye on Castagne, but for us as soon as they are in the duel, then we have no chance to get him. This is exactly what makes the difference between these two clubs. That is not a reason not to go in this game and say we still have a chance to win.”"
Southampton’s full-back hunt proves Castagne’s worth
Saints tried to sign a full-back back in January to provide cover on both sides for Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand. The lack of options within their first-team squad has proven problematic at times this season.
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Given that Castagne has played on both sides of the defence for Leicester in 2020/21, it is easy to see why Saints were pursuing a deal for him too.
What Hasenhuttl’s words also show is just how far Saints have fallen away from where they want to be. Had they become a club challenging for Europa League qualification again, players like Castagne may have found St Mary’s a more attractive destination.
As it is, the club will be going into a crucial summer window after a campaign that has fallen below expectations and this will only make finding the right players even tougher.
Funds will be hard to come by given that financial strains produced by the Covid-19 pandemic but Hasenhuttl needs four or five new faces to best prepare for the next couple of years.
Part of the summer business could also involve a rebuilding project too. Danny Ings, Ryan Bertrand and Jannik Vestergaard are just three of the current players who have contracts close to expiring and they will need to be replaced if they are to move on to pastures new.