Tottenham and Chelsea are ready to test Southampton’s resolve to keep promising left-back Luke Shaw at St Mary’s.
The London rivals are both expected to make bids for the Saints defender, who has been valued at £16.5million, once the season ends.
That’s bad news for Arsenal, who believed they had the inside track on the 17-year-old who has been tipped for the top.
Southampton are under no pressure to sell, especially if they stay in the Premier League, as Shaw only signed a new five-year deal at the start of the year.
New manager Mauricio Pochettino has also been told by chairman Nicola Cortese that potential superstars like Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will no longer be allowed to leave unless it is in the club’s interests.
That won’t stop the London trio from tabling bids and despite having a sound financial footing, Saints could be tempted by player plus cash offerings. It is also plausible that Shaw would be sold and loaned back for the 2013/2014 season to continue his swift rise.
Spurs will point to how Bale has flourished since leaving the south coast for White Hart Lane in a bid to persuade the teenager to join them while Chelsea hope to finally lure the Surrey-born youngster to Stamford Bridge after allowing him to join Southampton from under their noses.
Shaw grew up at Kingston-upon-Thames, just seven miles from the Blues’ training ground at Cobham.