FORMER Arsenal ace Paul Merson insists one of the “so-called big boys” would have broken the bank to sign James Ward-Prowse if he was a top five Premier League midfielder.
Saints captain Ward-Prowse could line up for a 12th England cap in the next few days after Gareth Southgate included him in his final squad before the World Cup in Qatar.
The Three Lions face Italy tonight and Germany on Monday, September 26, in the last two Nations League matches, with the 27-year-old midfielder likely to play at least one.
Ward-Prowse was one of six players nominated for the Premier League’s player of the season award last campaign, after scoring a personal best 10 goals to keep Saints in the division.
However, with four years left on his contract, he remains at the St Mary’s side and has played every minute for Ralph Hasenhuttl so far this campaign.
“James Ward-Prowse is another player I really rate,” said Merson, who played 21 times for England between 1991-98.
“But with all due respect, I don’t think he’s among the five best midfielders in the Premier League currently.
“If that was the case, one of the so-called big boys would’ve definitely come forward and broken the bank to secure his signature.”
Aston Villa are so far the only confirmed side to attempt to prise Ward-Prowse away from Saints.
They did so in the summer of 2021, seeing a £25million bid rejected for the international before instead signing striker Danny Ings.
The likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United have all been credited with interest, but reports suggested it would take up to £75million to steal the Saints academy graduate and legend.
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