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Southampton to bag Braga and Portugal midfield starlet Rafa Silva

Southampton, 11/8 with Coral for a top four finish, are reportedly ready to make a move for Braga sensation Rafa Silva as they attempt to boost their chances of securing a Champions League spot.

The three-capped Portugal orchestrator is able to operate as a central attacking midfielder or on either flank, and was believed to be on Ronald Koeman’s radar last summer.

A switch never materialised, although Silva has continued to shine for his club in a wide role, with Europe’s talent spotters beginning to take notice.

Now, as the Saints prepare to battle the likes of big-spenders Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool for a European place, the south coast club could return to prise Silva from Portugal before his stock rises any further.

Having already made 50 outings for battlers Braga, scoring 12 times, the 21-year-old could be ready to move on from the minnows and make the leap to the Premier League.

Highly-rated in his home nation, Silva was selected for the Navigators’ World Cup squad and should be aiming to cement a place in the starting XI.

If the Saints want to poach one of Portuguese football’s most promising players though, they may have to fork out a fee of around £15m, as Silva supposedly has a release clause in his current contract.

The relatively high price tag for a still as yet unproven talent may have put Southampton off making a formal bid last summer, but it appears Koeman has still been keeping tabs on the youngster, as his scouts were supposedly seen at Braga’s recent clash with Sporting Lisbon.

Rumours suggest the Dutch coach is now ready to dig deep to reinforce his sides’ assault on a top four place, with Silva supposedly high on his hitlist.

The St Mary’s side already boast a wealth of talent in attacking midfield, with the likes of Dusan Tadic, Saido Mane, James Ward-Prowse and loan star Eljero Elia at the club, plus wide attacker Jay Rodriguez set to return from a long-term injury.

As doubts remain over Rodriguez’s future on the south coast, however, a swoop for Silva could prove prudent.

Crafty Koeman has already proven to be a shrewd operator in the transfer market, with summer recruits Tadic, Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle and Atletico Madrid-owned Toby Alderweireld contributing significantly to Southampton’s cause.

As the Saints, 25/1 to win the FA Cup, continue to surprise supporters with their sensational form, fans will be hoping prospective signing Silva turns out to be another masterstroke.