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Saints may have to dig deep in plot for Palermo’s Paulo Dybala

Southampton (3/1 with Coral for a top four finish) are reportedly in a race with Portuguese giants Benfica to land Palermo forward Paulo Dybala, in what could be a spectacular January transfer boost for the unlikely Champions League hopefuls.

Earlier speculation had suggested that the Eagles attacker could be available in a cut-price deal, with the 20-year-old starlet’s contract due to run out.

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini, however, has quickly moved to quash rumours that he intends to offload the Argentine talent.

Speaking recently, Zamparini told media: “For me, Dybala is worth €42 million. To buy him, you would need an Arab, one who extracts oil every day for a billion euros, like the one at PSG. Otherwise he remains at Palermo.”

For all Zamparini’s bullish talk, though, the Sicilian club could still opt to cash-in on Dybala in the winter window, rather than eventually risk losing him on a free.

Ronald Koeman appears to be keen on strengthening an already potent offence, with Italy poacher Graziano Pelle and Serbia star Dusan Tadic so far impressing at St Mary’s.

Talented Dybala has been spoken about in the same breath as the likes of compatriot Sergio Aguero, and could be both an exciting foil for Pelle and another to benefit from top assistant Tadic’s talents.

The Saints are once again building an exciting young core at the south coast club, despite losing the likes of Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, in what had appeared to be a terrible last transfer window for the club.

Koeman has spent incredibly well, however, and Dybala could yet be another ace card. With Champions League football appearing a possibility, even at this early stage of the season, the Dutch coach will be hoping he is backed in the transfer market by the Southampton hierarchy.

Poaching highly-rated Eagles attacker Dybala would surely be a statement of intent. The impressive Argentine has notched up three goals and two assists in 11 league outings for the Serie A side this season, including a strike against AC Milan last time out.

Second placed Premier League adventurers Southampton (9/2 to win the Capital One Cup), however, may have to be prepared to part with more than their club record £15m fee, previously paid for on-loan outcast Pablo Osvaldo, to land their man.