Club Boss Addresses Potential £20m Liverpool Deal

Claude Puel has played down reports linking Southampton to Liverpool £20m-rated defender Mamadou Sakho, labelling it “speculation.”

The Saints have agreed to sell their first choice centre-back Jose Fonte to West Ham for £8million, however, French international Sakho will not be his replacement.

Instead, Puel has suggested that the hole left by the departing Fonte could be filled by either Jack Stephens and Florin Gardos.

As the Portuguese defender left St Mary’s, it had been reported that Saints saw out-of-favour Sakho as the perfect replacement, but a loan move was thwarted as Liverpool are keen to sell the defender out right.

When quizzed on a possible move for the Reds’ man, Puel said: “I know this player but I know nothing about this, it’s speculation.

“We have a reflection about this possibility to see another centre-back. For the moment it’s not the situation, and perhaps we will stay with the same squad, with good opportunities for Jack Stephens or Gardos.

“It’s a long time with a lot of injuries for Gardos, but he came back for the Under-23s before this game (against Norwich in the FA Cup) with a good level and we will see if we just have Jack (Stephens) and Florin.”

On Wednesday, Southampton kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 FA Cup third round replay win against Norwich City, when England Under-21 international Stephens was given a rare start in the heart of their defence.

They face Leicester City on Saturday in the Premier League, hoping to end the run of four straight defeats. Puel admits that he will once again rotate his side as the Saints begin a run of four games in nine days.

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