Manolo Gabbiadini will stay at Saints and challenge Charlie Austin for a place in the first team rather than return to Italy.

The striker’s agent has confirmed that the 26-year-old has rebuffed the opportunity of a move back to Serie A this summer to try and force his way into the Saints side as a regular starter under Mark Hughes.

Gabbiadini got his Saints career off to a flying start as he scored six goals in his first five games, including two in the EFL Cup final at Wembley, after joining the club for £15m in January 2017.

However, he has since struggled to find the net on a regular basis, scoring five times in his next 41 appearances.

Gabbiadini has been unable to hold down a regular starting berth, and is likely to begin this season behind Austin in the pecking order as Saints look set to play with one up front again.

Saints fans have not lost patience with him though, and his goal just four minutes after coming off the bench to seal a 1-0 win at Swansea in May, which virtually guaranteed the club’s Premier League survival, enhanced his hero status still further.

Lazio were one of the clubs rumoured to be interested in Gabbiadini, but his agent, Silvio Pagliari, has confirmed to Italian media that the international striker wants to stay at St Mary’s.

He said: “Gabbiadini definitely stays at Southampton, and we have to overturn last year’s performance in which we did not do very well. The team suffered a lot: a few goals, a very strange championship despite being very strong.”

He added: “A few requests from Italian clubs came but he feels at the top in the Premier League, also for how football is lived. It’s another world.”

Saints currently have four front line strikers at the club with Austin and Gabbiadini supplemented by Shane Long and Sam Gallagher.

If the club dip into the transfer market again before the close of the window in just under a fortnight then they will most likely target another striker. However, they will almost certainly need to sell somebody to enable that to happen, and the club are acutely aware they don’t require five players for that one position.