Tuesday 20 March 2018

Southampton to fend off interest in Shane Long from Liverpool and Spurs with new contract

Republic of Ireland's Shane Long celebrates scoring against the dutch on Friday
Republic of Ireland's Shane Long celebrates scoring against the dutch on Friday
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Southampton are confident of ending the ongoing transfer rumours surrounding Shane Long, as they prepare to offer their Republic of Ireland striker a new contract, Independent.ie understands.

Liverpool have had an interest in the 29-year-old striker for several months, while Tottenham have been linked with a move for Long in recent days, following the appearance of Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino at Ireland's game against Holland in Dublin on Friday night.

Pochettino was seen in animated conversation with Long's adviser Pat Dolan at the Aviva Stadium, yet it seems unlikely that the Tottenham boss would have been so open about his interest in Long if he was intending to make a move for the Tipperary-born star this summer.

Now Southampton are keen to put a swift end to the rumours swirling around Long, as they prepare to renew his current contract, which has two years left to run.

Long was in sparkling form in the second half of the recently concluded Premier League season, winning lavish praise from Saints manager Ronald Koeman who took time to be won over by his talents following his £12m arrival at the club in the summer of 2014.

Hanging on to Long would be another boost to Southampton after they nailed down goalkeeper Fraser Forster, defender Virgil van Dijk and midfielder James Ward-Prowse to long-term deals in recent weeks and they  hope to start negotiations over a fresh deal for their star striker can start imminently.

Saints officials believe Long is content on the south coast of England after being given a run in his favoured forward position in recent months and he has become a firm favourite with the club's supporters, with the possible departure of Saints striker Graziano Pelle this summer cementing his importance to a side that will play in the group stages of the Europa League next season.

Southampton are keen to end the speculation over Long's future before he leads the Ireland line at Euro 2016, with a sparkling tournament for the leading light of Martin O'Neill's team certain to heighten rumours over his future.

Meanwhile, Everton continue to be linked with a bid to recruit Southampton manager Koeman, yet his current employers are confident of hanging on to the respected Dutch tactician.

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