Southampton have opened talks over a sensational move for Bologna playmaker Gaston Ramirez.
The newly promoted Saints are looking to make their mark in the transfer market by signing the highly rated Uruguayan on a four-year deal before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
Discussions have begun with both Bologna and Ramirez’s representatives as Southampton manager Nigel Adkins looks to tie up a deal that would smash the south coast club’s transfer record and be worth around £11.8 million (€15m).
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Bologna had valued Ramirez as high as £15m, a price that has deterred Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City from pressing ahead with a move for the 21-year-old despite admiring his talents.
Ramirez’s agent, Oscar Betancourt, had also claimed that Tottenham have made a bid of £12.6m for his client, but Goal.com understands no such offer has been tabled.
It would be a major coup if Southampton could clinch a deal for a player admired by some of Europe’s leading clubs, especially given their record fee currently stands at a modest £6m paid to Burnley for Jay Rodriguez earlier this summer.
Ramirez, who played for Uruguay during the Olympics, had ambitions to play for a Champions League calibre club but has been tempted by the chance to play regularly with the Saints in the Premier League.
"In Southampton I can play a lot of matches and I am in need of this," the player said to reporters in Italy.
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"Bologna and Southampton have an agreement."
He is under contract with Bologna until 2016 and Betancourt had previously suggested earlier this week that the versatile attacking midfielder is now likely to stay in Serie A for at least one more season.
"The only solid offer is the one from Tottenham, who offered €16m [£12.6m]," Betancourt claimed this week.
"But the deal didn't go through because Spurs offered too low a wage to the player and if the wage difference is minimal he would stay at Bologna.
"Tottenham could raise their offer if they sell Modric and in that case the deal could be done, otherwise Ramirez will stay another year at Bologna. We also talked with Liverpool but nothing more.
"Inter? They are interested in the player, but can't afford a cash offer similar to the English clubs.
"The Nerazzurri would wish to include some players in the deal, but Bologna only want cash, also because of the arrangement with Penarol [Ramirez's former club] who receive a percentage if the player is sold."
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