Premier League strugglers Southampton are eyeing a move for Belgium and Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet during the summer transfer window, according to Calciomercato.
However, the Saints will have stiff competition for his signature, as Serie A titans Juventus and Inter Milan are also interested in the 23-year-old. The attacking midfielder had 27 goals and 39 assists in 182 appearances for Anderlecht before joining Sampdoria in 2016, where he's scored one goal and tallied four assists across all competitions.
Praet, who has one cap for Belgium, has been previously compared to Barcelona great Andres Iniesta by former Anderlecht teammate Tom De Sutter, as he claimed: "Dennis plays like Iniesta. He's got good technique, he's solid, holds on to the ball well, keeps things simple and doesn't panic. His vision of the game is incredible.”
Praet's creativity would aid a Southampton squad that has struggled to find the net this season, scoring just 29 goals (tied for sixth fewest in the league) a big reason why the club currently sits in the relegation zone in 18th place.
In stark contrast to Southampton, Praet's other suitors Juventus and Inter sit first and fourth in Serie A respectively.
This isn't the first time Praet has drawn interest from a Premier League side. In August last year, Newcastle had a reported £17.5m bid rejected by Sampdoria, whilst Everton were also said to be interested.
But Sampdoria were able to hang on to Praet, and once the transfer window shut last summer he spoke about the saga: "I didn't want to leave. I love this club and the president is a special person. He has a great approach with footballers and that's a huge difference compared to [former club] Anderlecht. I know Sampdoria received some offers for me but I didn't even talk with any other club as there was no agreement between them."
However, Praet did add he'd be "happy" to go to the Premier League one day. Whether that means joining Southampton remains to be seen, as the club are currently fighting for Premier League survival, and the lure of Juventus and Inter may be too strong to turn down for the young Belgian.