Saints eyed January options in Wales-Hungary clash

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl says his only focus is on his current club as he moulds his squad for next season.

Southampton sent a scout to Cardiff earlier this month to check out potential January signings in Wales' winner-takes-all Euro 2020 qualifier against Hungary.

The specific reason for the Southampton scout’s presence at the Cardiff City Stadium is unclear. However, there were several players on show with previous links to the club or possible associations with head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Wales won the match 2-0 to secure their place at next summer’s finals and send Hungary to the play-offs, where they will face Bulgaria in March.

And while two-goal scorer Aaron Ramsey or ex-Saints starlet Gareth Bale are probably out of the club’s price range on the wages they earn at Juventus and Real Madrid respectively, there were some interesting players on show.

Two of the players involved in the match currently play for Hasenhuttl’s former club RB Leipzig – Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi and Wales defensive midfielder Ethan Ampadu.

Whether Southampton are in the market for a new goalkeeper in January is open to debate, with Hasenhuttl recently switching back to Alex McCarthy, the man he axed after he failed to keep clean sheet in the Austrian’s first ten matches in charge last term.

Angus Gunn began the season as the first-choice keeper but his confidence has taken a battering.

Gulacsi was Hasenhuttl’s first choice at Leipzig and continues to be the number one at the Bundesliga club, with the 29-year-old renewing his contract there as recently as two months ago.

Ampadu, 19, is currently at Leipzig on a season-long loan from Chelsea but hasn’t been getting the game-time that his parent club probably wanted.

The former Exeter City youth has played a sum total of 48 minutes in the league from two substitute appearances and could be itching to move again in January if that doesn’t change.

Leipzig have stressed the Welshman will not be returning to Chelsea in the next transfer window, but Saints could be assessing him for the summer anyway.

Hasenhuttl’s knowledge of Austrian football could have led him to covet Red Bull Salzburg’s Dominik Szoboszlai, who is Hungary’s top talent.

But there are said to be some very big clubs at the front of the queue for the 19-year-old’s services, so that could be a non-starter for Saints.

Finally, Southampton were linked to Hungary midfielder Adam Nagy in 2016 and the 24-year-old’s recent displays in the Championship for Bristol City could have rekindled something in the club’s famous ‘Black Box’ recruitment room.