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Saints could land bargain buy
Mauricio Pochettino could use his influence to sign Joan Verdu for free after the Spanish playmaker confirmed he will quit Espanyol this summer.
The 30-year-old, pictured, enjoyed the best years of his career under the management of Pochettino – who made him captain at Espanyol – and yesterday turned down the offer of a new deal at the La Liga side.
As such, he will officially become a free agent at the end of June, meaning Saints could snap up a bargain.
Pochettino would face competition for his signature with a host of Spanish sides such as Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, Villarreal and Sevilla also believed to be interested.
Verdu started his career in the Barcelona youth system, playing for the C and B teams before a switch to Deportivo La Coruna in 2006.
It was at Deportivo that Verdu really made his name as an attacking midfield playmaker, and after three years with the club he turned down a new contract and signed for Pochettino at Espanyol.
Verdu became a central part of Pochettino’s successful Espanyol team, who defied expectations and the sale of many of their best players to continue to compete with Spain’s best.
During his four seasons with the club, Verdu played an impressive 143 times, scoring 23 goals.
However, he announced yesterday that will leave Espanyol after frustration over his prolonged and ultimately unsuccessful contract negotiations.
He said: “I did everything I could, I believed that I would retire here, but the club has not valued me as much as I had thought.
“It is not just an economic issue but one also of trust, to feel important and more.
“It began two-and-a-half years ago when I rejected two offers and the club promised me some things that have not been fulfilled.
“They told me I would stay, it would be arranged. It was by word, but I believed in it. During this time I could not have made more efforts to reach an agreement.
“I have decided not to accept the offer and from here I will consider other proposals and decide within the next hours or days.
“I believe I have a lot of football left in me, if the club does not believe this then they will have to think again.
“The four years I have been here I have experienced a great time. “Like when I would hear my name chanted at the stadium, and all the goals I have scored.
“ I will try to be a fan once more, I will concern myself always with Espanyol and I wish them all the best.
“I do not like being able to say goodbye as God intended, on the field and with the fans, and to say goodbye to my teammates.
“It’s a sad day, here things have been great, I have been loved and I have become captain.” Verdu refused to be drawn on where he might end up next, but the Saints link is an inevitable and exciting one.
The club are in the market for a winger rather than an out and out playmaker.
But given that Pochettino knows Verdu so well and has enjoyed successful times with him, and he has now surprisingly become available on a free, the chance to link up again might prove irresistible to both parties.
Pochettino has yet to make a signing since taking over at St Mary’s, as Norwegian Vegard Forren’s arrival was completed on the day the Argentinian was appointed.
Pochettino was keen to sign one of his former Espanyol loanees, Philippe Coutinho, before the Brazilian signed for Liverpool last January instead.
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