Saints fans were tonight coming to terms with the shock news that star striker Rickie Lambert is closing in on a dream move to Liverpool.

The Reds are understood to be confident of finalising a deal for the 32-year-old, having offered about £4m up front, plus add-ons.

Liverpool are already chasing Saints captain Adam Lallana, having lodged a £20m bid for the midfielder, while they are also plotting a move for centre-half Dejan Lovren this summer.

There was no confirmation from St Mary's about a deal for Lambert, who is under contract until 2016, and nothing is thought to have been agreed as yet.

But it is clear that talks have been taking place and that Liverpool are confident of tying up the transfer.

Bristol Rovers, Lambert's former club, are also said to possess a sell-on clause, meaning a proportion of any fee will have to go to them.

The news comes as a blow to Saints chairman Ralph Krueger, who insisted this week that all dealings were on hold until a new manager was appointed, following Mauricio Pochettino's departure for Spurs.

While the club may yet delay the move until a replacement for the Argentine is installed, the fact this has come out does not reflect well on them.

For Lambert, born in Kirkby, Merseyside, the move would be a dream one.

The forward is a huge Liverpool fan and has a Liver bird tattooed on his shoulder.

He was once let go by the club as a schoolboy, but now his career looks set to go full circle.

His departure will be met with great sadness by Saints supporters, though, with Lambert having become a hero on the south coast.

He has been an enormously influential figure over the past five years, since joining the club for £1m from Bristol Rovers in 2009.

His scoring record is sensational, having netted 117 times in 235 appearances for Saints.

He has also converted a perfect 34 out of 34 penalties.

Lambert played a pivotal role in dragging the club up from League One and eventually to the top half of the Premier League.

He was the joint-top English scorer in the Premier League during the 2012/13 season - his first at that level - with his 15 goals that term being followed by another 13 in the top-flight this time around.

That form earned him a first call-up for England last summer, with Lambert experiencing a dream debut, scoring the winner in a 3-2 victory against Scotland at Wembley, coming off the bench to net with his first touch.

He ultimately earned a place in Roy Hodgson's squad for this summer's World Cup, although there are now doubts over whether he will be heading to Brazil as a Saints player or a Liverpool one.