Aaron Cresswell would cost in excess of £4m should Saints or any other side try to tempt Ipswich into selling one of their rising stars.
Saints have been linked with a move for the 23-year-old left back, who has also attracted firm interest from Aston Villa and covetous glances from Everton.
Villa enquired about Cresswell last summer but opted to sign Joe Bennett instead, but are believed to be considering renewing their interest with Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy only understood to have a comparatively small transfer budget to work with if he doesn’t make any sales.
The Saints link is a slightly surprising one as left back is not one of their priority areas to strengthen, assuming Luke Shaw signs his new contract as planned and that Danny Fox is retained as back up.
However, Cresswell undoubtedly fits the mould in terms of a Saints signing.
He is promising, young and English, with experience in the lower leagues for Tranmere before his time with Ipswich but has not yet stepped up to the top flight.
It would follow the same path as the signings of the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez, with Saints’ policy having proven to be totally justified in both of those cases.
Cresswell’s current manager, Mick McCarthy, certainly rates the player highly.
“He’s a Premier League footballer in the making,” he said.
“He’s got good pace, he’s got a good left foot. He can defend, he can head it. He’s not the biggest but he’s a good competitor.”
Creswell has made over 170 appearances in all competitions since getting his pro debut with Tranmere in 2008 and was the only player to play every minute of every game for Ipswich last season.