Young Spanish forward Juan Miguel Jimenez Lopez — Juanmi to you and I — is close to joining Southampton according to numerous reports.
Juanmi, 22, has a release clause of $8 million and it is believed he was in Southampton on Monday with his agent to try and tie up the deal.
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Saints boss Ronald Koeman will have some competition to seal the deal for the Spanish international though, as Liverpool, West Ham United, Newcastle, Real Sociedad and Aston Villa are apparently interested in snapping up the versatile attacker. Juanmi made his debut for the Spanish national team in March against the Netherlands and can play either as a central striker or out wide in a front three.
After bursting onto the scene for hometown club Malaga as a 16-year-old and becoming the club’s youngest ever goalscorer, Juanmi’s career stalled and he was sent out on loan to Racing Santander in 2013. However last season he found a new lease of life at Malaga and scored eight times in 28 La Liga appearances as the Andalusian club finished in ninth place in Spain’s top-flight.
Southampton seem to specialize on taking calculate gambles on players who are young, have yet to fully develop but have the potential to become stars. Just look at the signings of Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and Ryan Bertrand last season and how well they worked out for Koeman as his team recorded their highest-ever finish of seventh in the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League for the 2015-16 season. The secret “black box room” at Saints’ training ground is said to have tons of data on potential signings from league’s across the world as they cast the net far and wide to give youngsters a chance to shine in England’s top-flight.
Juanmi’s potential addition would help ease the pressure on Graziano Pelle as the Italian international scored 16 times in his debut season in the PL but will turn 30 in July and certainly won’t be expected to start every PL game plus play a a pivotal role in Saints’ Europa League campaign if they make a deep run. With Jay Rodriguez returning to full fitness for next season after rupturing his ACL and missing the last 12 months, plus Shane Long and Mane around, snapping up Juanmi could see Saints well-stocked in the forward department a little less than two months before the season begins.
As most PL managers say, it’s always good to get your summer business done early.