CONTROVERSIAL Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo is believed to be resisting a club-record transfer to Saints.
Reports in Italy suggest that a £17m deal has been tabled for the player, but that the 27-year-old would prefer a move to a more established Premier League side.
The forward has previously been linked with Tottenham and Chelsea, while Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid are also reportedly interested.
Osvaldo, an Italian international who was born in Argentina, is well known to Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, having played under him for 18 months at Espanyol.
Supporters might remember the forward’s quote about Pochettino’s training methods that was widely re-publicised following his appointment at St Mary’s.
“He makes you work like a dog. Sometimes you feel like killing him, but it works,” said Osvaldo.
Although Roma paid Espanyol about £15m for him two years ago, and despite Osvaldo enjoying a productive season last term, it would be no surprise to see him leave the Stadio Olimpico this summer, and the Italians are rumoured to have been actively seeking a buyer.
Osvaldo has endured a rocky relationship with the supporters and the club’s hierarchy during his time there.
Most recently, he insulted Roma caretaker manager Aurelio Andreazzoli after only being used as a late substitute in the 1-0 defeat to arch rivals Lazio in the Coppa Italia final.
His outburst led to his exclusion from the Italian squad for this summer’s Confederations Cup.
Shortly after his arrival at Roma, he was accused of hitting teammate Erik Lamela in the dressing room after being upset that he had not passed him the ball.
His bad-boy image is not helped by six dismissals in the past three seasons, including matches for both club and country.
It has also helped sour his relationship with the Roma crowd.
In another incident, he, along with his teammates and former coach Zdenìk Zeman, had abuse thrown at them by a group of supporters on returning to the train station in Rome following a disappointing 3-3 draw at Bologna last January, with Osvaldo said to be the prime target.
He drew the fans’ ire again a month later, when he wrestled the ball from Roma captain and legend Francesco Totti in order to take a penalty against Sampdoria, only to miss as his side fell to a 3-1 defeat. His car was subsequently pelted with rubbish and eggs.
However, the regular focus on such incidents can mask the talent of Osvaldo.
His 17 goals in 31 appearances for Roma last season speak of a player with an impressive eye for goal. He has also struck three times for Italy in their qualifying campaign for next year’s World Cup. He has been capped eight times for the country.
Osvaldo began his career with Argentine side Huracán, before moving to Italy, with Atalanta, in 2006.
After a spell at Lecce, he was sold to Fiorentina and then Bologna, before joining Espanyol in January 2010.
If Saints were to sign him, it would break the £12m record fee they paid to Bologna for Gastón Ramírez last summer.
London would perhaps be the player’s preferred destination. He is known to love the city, and visited it in April with his fiancée, Argentinean actress Jimena Barón, while suspended from playing.