RALPH Hasenhuttl responded to Saints’ Brandon Williams speculation, joking: “It’s interesting that you name this player. It was a nice try, to be honest!”

Saints have long been linked with a loan move for Manchester United’s 20-year-old full-back – three transfer windows – whose versatility means he can operate on either side of the defence.

Beyond the starters Kyle Walker-Peters and new signing Romain Perraud, Saints do not have the depth in wide defensive areas required and have looked to make an addition as cover, with Williams’ versatility looking ideal.

The Manchester-born youngster has already made 21 appearances in the Premier League for the Red Devils, scoring his first goal in a 3-3 draw at Sheffield United in November 2019 – while playing at wide-midfield.

With under four weeks until the Premier League season kicks off for Saints at Everton, fans will start to question the shape of the squad if nothing advances soon.

When quizzed about the potential of bringing Williams in, Hasenhuttl told BBC Radio Solent: “At the moment on the transfer market, nobody has money.

“Everybody wants the most money for his players when they sell so it keeps everything on hold. Therefore, a lot of players are letting their contracts run out and leave without money.

“This money is what smaller clubs are missing, it’s going out of football somewhere else, I don’t know, in the pockets of agents or wherever. This situation is not good for no league in the world.

“You pay a lot of money for players and the extending of contracts gets thwarted not only in our situation but all around the world I see players knowing this, running out clubs for free and this also leads to then finding more money for clubs, they don’t know where it comes.

“We have Covid and other issues in the modern world, we know this, these are problems not only we are fighting with but a lot of teams are fighting with.”

The boss would not be drawn on the Williams speculation, however. He added: “It’s interesting that you name this player, normally you don’t. It was a nice try to be honest!”

To add, Williams was named as a starter ahead of £13m acquisition Alex Telles, who was on the bench today as the Red Devils take on Derby County in a first pre-season fixture, perhaps suggesting that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not done with the youngster just yet.