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Southampton sign Romania’s Florin Gardos to strengthen rearguard

Southampton, 14/1 shots with Coral for a top six finish, have signed Romania international and Steaua Bucharest centre back Florin Gardos as a replacement for departed defender Dejan Lovren on a four-year deal.

Ronald Koeman has now made seven additions to the Saints squad during a summer of change at St Mary’s, while seeing as many first-team players and frozen out forward Dani Osvaldo leave the south coast. Chief among the Saints exodus was Lovren, who forced a move through to Liverpool where he linked up with Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.

Gardos, 25, has a dozen caps for his country and accrued plenty of experience in European competitions in four years at Steaua. In that time, he has won three major trophies in the Romanian capital, including back-to-back domestic league titles.

At over 6ft 4in, Gardos will add extra height to the Southampton defence, and could also be deployed in a holding midfield role. This makes him extra appealing to Koeman, as anchorman Morgan Schneiderlin is trying to force a move through to Spurs, where he would link up with old boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Having sold Lovren for a reported £20m, Koeman ha replaced relaitvely on the cheap with Gardos who, according to reports, commands a fee less than £5m. The Saints boss will be hoping the player could have a similar initial impact that compatriot Vlad Chiriches had at Tottenham.

Koeman’s summer captures for Southampton are the loan signings of Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand and Algeria international midfielder Saphir Taider, plus permanent transfers of England understudy goalie Fraser Forster, Ireland striker Shane Long, Italian forward Graziano Pelle and Serbia winger Dusan Tadic.

Gardos is in line for a Saints debut at Anfield in their Premier League opener and Koeman’s managerial bow with Liverpool. Shorter odds of 7/4 say Southampton will finish in the top 10.