James Ward-Prowse would be the ideal replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool, according to one pundit.
Ward-Prowse has risen through the ranks at Southampton and now has nearly a decade of service to the first team under his belt.
Still only 26, the midfielder is entering his prime years. His form this season suggests he may already be in them.
Ward-Prowse has contributed six goals and five assists from 27 Premier League appearances. He has developed a reputation as a dead-ball specialist, scoring a number of free kicks.
His ability in that department led Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to describe him as the best he has seen at the task. That was high praise from a manager of an elite club.
And clubs of that level should be interested in him, according to BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
Writing in his team of the week column after Ward-Prowse scored a penalty in a 2-0 win over Sheffield United at the weekend, Crooks tipped the midfielder to be the next in a long line of players to move from Southampton to Liverpool.
“I am convinced Southampton would be in serious trouble were it not for James Ward-Prowse,” said Crooks.
“We know he can take a free-kick and that he is capable of covering the ground, but he also has a superb temperament. The Saints had no-one better to take their penalty under their current circumstances.
“His contribution against Sheffield United thereafter was immense.
“It’s clear Georginio Wijnaldum is almost certain to leave Liverpool at the end of the season for Barcelona. I can’t think of a better replacement than Ward-Prowse.”
Wijnaldum has no news over contract
While Crooks believes a departure for Wijnaldum is inevitable in the summer, nothing is official yet.
The midfielder remains a key player for Jurgen Klopp, starting 26 league games this season. But Liverpool have not been able to convince him to commit his future just yet.
Barcelona are not the only interested party. Inter Milan are also strong contenders to sign him, while PSG have also been linked.
Wijnaldum remains quiet over his future though, recently shifting the attention away from his future and towards Liverpool’s attempts of returning to form.
“If you’re a fan and you support the team – you support the player and what they do with me,” Wijnaldum told beIN Sports.
“You want to hear what’s going to happen but on the other side, for me, if there’s nothing to say and no news I cannot say something.
“I hope they can understand that and I hope they will stay patient until there’s news.
“The most important thing right now is that we fix things in the game as a team and we get results.
“Talking about an individual, in this case about me and my contract situation – because I just said there’s no news, I think we can focus on better things than on my situation.
“When there is news, we will bring it out.”