Southampton are confident they can finalize a deal to sign Manchester United’s Brandon Williams on a season-long loan.
The two clubs have had discussions and with the full-back keen to secure consistent playing time, good progress has been made. However, the loan fees, which United will insist on, have yet to be agreed.
St Mary’s side tried in the last two transfer windows to add the player to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, but failed on both attempts.
Williams was keen to join Southampton on loan last summer, asking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to give the deal the green light on the deadline day after Alex Telles arrived, but the Norwegian wanted to keep the 20-year-old in his squad for more depth.
However, the talented youngster only managed 14 senior appearances throughout the campaign despite United reaching the FA Cup quarter-final, the Carabao Cup semi-final and the World Cup final. Europa League.
Southampton returned for Williams in January, only to see their advances denied a second time by the Old Trafford hierarchy.
But they are now getting closer to their long-held goal, with United ready to grant the player’s wish for consistent Premier League football on third request. Williams has been a United fan since he was a child, having joined the club at the age of seven, but is ready to move on, at least temporarily, to further his development at this crucial age.
Athleticism understands that the defender has been assured Hasenhuttl is ready to give him much more playing time than he was given at United last season, while glowing reports on the Austrian’s management have been passed to Williams.
There are still details to sort out, including employee contributions. Southampton would be expected to take over the full salary of the defender, just as they did when they signed Takumi Minamino from Liverpool in January.
A stumbling block could still be the fees. If United demanded a large payment from Southampton, the decision could fail.
Ed Woodward has insisted on a Â£ 1.5million fee for Jesse Lingard’s six-month loan to West Ham United, delaying completion of the switch until the end of the January window, and it remains to be see where the executive vice president launches Williams.
Woodward and head of negotiations Matt Judge will weigh the advantage Southampton would gain over the possibility of Williams coming out of the experience as a better prospect of being in Solskjaer’s squad, or his transfer value increasing.
It is considered unlikely that a call option will be included in the contract. But the sources are encouraged to have the move completed as soon as possible, with Southampton hoping to have Williams for the preseason as soon as possible. Williams was among United’s players at Carrington on Monday for the first comeback session after the summer break.
Doubts had been raised about the playing time granted to Williams if he moved to Southampton, especially since Romain Perraud has just arrived from the Brest stadium.
But Hasenhuttl wants to give Williams the option of taking over the left-back or the right-back. Southampton had targeted two full-backs this summer, and Perraud’s signing hasn’t changed their perspective on that.
Although the Frenchman replaced Ryan Bertrand, it is accepted that the defensive unit still needs to be strengthened.
As it stands, Hasenhuttl only has Kyle Walker-Peters and Perraud as back options, with Jake Vokins having joined Ross County on loan and Yan Valery not pictured in the first team.
Williams has emerged as an important player for United at a difficult time in the 2019-20 season, with Luke Shaw suffering from injury and declining form. He made 36 appearances in all competitions, scored a superb volley at Sheffield United and impressed Solskjaer immensely with his determination and fearlessness.
Williams was rewarded with a new contract worth Â£ 65,000 a week until 2024, with the option of an additional year, and he made his England Under-21 debut. He was on Gareth Southgate’s thoughts for his England side last September but an injury ruled him out.
Shaw’s resurgence, Telles signing and Solskjaer’s commitment to Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the opposite flank have limited Williams’ involvement since, but his reputation in the game remains and several clubs have inquired about his signing this past. summer.
John Murtough, United’s new director of football, has also scanned the market for places to put Williams, a recognition by the club that after a season on the sidelines he needed to fulfill his desire for regular football.
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