Saints are reported to have rejected an offer from Cardiff for centre half Jose Fonte.
The Portuguese defender has just one year remaining on his current Saints contract, making him an attractive target for other sides who sense they can get a bargain if they are prepared to offer the 30-year-old an attractive long term deal.
Cardiff, who are bracing themselves for offers for central defender Steven Caulker, with whom Saints have been linked, have reportedly made the first move for Fonte.
However, their offer has apparently been flat out rejected by Saints.
Whether the player would be willing to drop down to the Championship anyway is unclear, but he did move from the second tier of English football down to League One when he joined Saints from Crystal Palace for £1.2m in January 2010.
With Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana having already departed St Mary’s this summer, the club are desperately trying to avoid losing their top talent.
Dejan Lovren’s departure following a transfer request seems almost inevitable if somebody is prepared to break the £20m mark for a player signed for £8.5m last summer.
Liverpool, who have already raided Saints for Lambert and Lallana this summer, are very keen on him and have made two unsuccessful bids, both of which are believed to be less than £20m.
With rumours also swirling about the future of Morgan Schneiderlin, Saints and new boss Ronald Koeman will be desperate to avoid what could start to seem like an exodus of top talent from St Mary’s.
However, Saints have left themselves somewhat vulnerable to an offer for Fonte by allowing his contract to run down so far.
There is an argument though that even if the player indicated he did not wish to sign a new deal, in the current circumstances, he may be worth more to keep for a season than the fee Saints receive, though that same logic could have applied to Lambert.
Though it was a dream move for the striker to go to Liverpool, and the fee was not a terrible one considering his age, Saints still ended up with only £4m and a bit of goodwill to show for one of their best and most influential players.