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‘Derisory’ opening bid rejected as Aston Villa ready next move for Southampton star

Aston Villa have seen an offer for James Ward-Prowse rejected by Southampton, according to a report.

It is already a busy summer on the transfer front at Villa Park. They broke their transfer record to sign Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City in June. They have also re-signed Ashley Young from Inter Milan on a free transfer and are eyeing further deals.

Villa are also facing the prospect of a future without Jack Grealish, for whom Manchester City have made a £100m offer. Their response is as yet unclear. In the meantime, they have been working on other deals.

Ward-Prowse is someone who would be a useful addition regardless of whether Grealish stays or goes. Playing in a deeper role than his compatriot, the Southampton star has been a consistent performer in recent seasons. He was unlucky to miss out on the final England squad for Euro 2020 after making the provisional selection.

Villa have been targeting the 26-year-old for several weeks as they look to bolster their ranks for the new campaign. They have stepped up their pursuit in recent days, submitting a formal offer.

According to The Athletic, Villa put £25m on the table for Ward-Prowse’s services. However, Southampton have rejected the offer, which they deemed “derisory”.

Ward-Prowse signed a new contract with Southampton last summer, tying him down until 2025. They would not want to sell him to a direct rival, but are aware that he is their most marketable asset.

Even so, they did not deem Villa’s offer as being even close to what would be required to free him up. Undeterred, Dean Smith’s side will make a second offer soon.

Not only a set-piece specialist, Ward-Prowse would give Villa plenty of energy in the midfield if they can get a deal done.

Villa eager to start keeper negotiations

In addition to signings, Villa must fend off any interest from the biggest clubs in their top players over the next month. Grealish is not the only one being admired by clubs of Champions League calibre.

Villa are eager to begin negotiations over a new contact for Emiliano Martinez after it emerged that a top European club is interested in the goalkeeper.

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The 28-year-old joined Villa from Arsenal in September last year, with the West Midlanders paying £20m. The Argentina international enjoyed a superb Premier League campaign. He played every minute of the Villans’ 38 top-flight matches, equalling Brad Friedel’s club record of 15 clean sheets in a season.

The South American inked a four-year deal at Villa Park and is in no hurry to find a new club. But Manchester United have already been mentioned in connection with the talented shot-stopper.

The rangy star’s recent exploits in the Copa America have raised his profile even higher. Now firmly established as Argentina’s number one keeper, he excelled at the summer showpiece.

According to 90min, an unnamed European club is now looking to muscle in on the action. They have reportedly spoken to his representatives to test the water over his availability.

But Smith seems determined to keep hold of the former Independiente youth star. Talks are due to begin to offer him improved terms and tie him down to a longer deal. It would also increase his value if a massive European club turned his head at some stage in the future.

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