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Football Whispers

Graziano Pelle to leave Southampton after Charlie Austin arrival - sources

Graziano Pelle has six goals in 16 Premier League matches for Southampton.
Graziano Pelle has scored six goals in 17 league games this season.

Italy striker Graziano Pelle is set to leave Southampton after the club confirmed the signing of Charlie Austin from QPR, sources have told ESPN FC.

Austin completed a move to Southampton on Saturday for a fee of around £4 million, sparking suggestions that Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long could be sold by the south coast club.

Long has been linked with a move to Liverpool or Tottenham in recent weeks, but sources have told ESPN FC that Pelle will be the player making way for Austin, after the Italian and his advisers displayed a reluctance to open talks over extending his current contract, which is due to expire in the summer of 2017.

Pelle will mark his 31st birthday in July and Southampton chiefs believe the investment in the 26-year-old Austin will be more beneficial to the club than offering the Italian a new deal next summer.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman hinted that Pelle has an uncertain future at the club as he spoke to the Daily Echo earlier this week.

"The situation of Graziano is a little bit different than other players because Graziano will be 31 and 32 at the end of next year and that's difficult," Koeman said.

"It's too early to conclude about his future. I know it's left one season on the contract but it's too early now to talk about his future."

Pelle made a big impact in his first season at Southampton following an £8m move from Feyenoord in the summer of 2014, but he has struggled to make his mark in this campaign and his commitment to the Saints cause has been questioned after he hinted he would relish a return to Italy.

"My contract with Southampton expires in 18 months, one year after Euro 2016," he told reporters in November. "Italy is the most beautiful country and it is that beauty which I am missing.

"Serie A has had a fall recently, but now it is showing growth again. Juventus' showings in the Champions League and the others teams in the Europa League have lifted it. Within a few years, Serie A will again be among one of the best leagues in the world.

"Nostalgia is always there with Italy and I'm nostalgic. Of course, I'm happy in England right now, but only time will tell."

Juventus and Lazio have been linked with a move for Pelle in recent days and it is now possible that he could leave this month, with his place in the Italian national team likely to come under threat if he loses his place in the Southampton team to Austin.

Pelle has become a key figure in the Italy side under coach Antonio Conte in recent months and is in contention to start Euro 2016 as the country's lead striker.


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