SAINTS reportedly retain ‘strong’ interest in Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, with a shot-stopping solution needed this summer.

The 20-year-old has just returned to Manchester City after a successful loan spell with Saints’ bitter rivals, Portsmouth, in League One.

The youngster kept 16 clean sheets in 44 league appearances at Fratton Park, and faces an important decision for his career this summer.

Bazunu signed a four-year contract at Etihad Stadium in 2020 but is said to have been in talks over his future with Ederson only 28 and tied down to 2026 in the City net.

The Irish Independent report he will either go out on loan again next season, or move on a permanent deal with a number of Premier League clubs interested.

They add Everton are eyeing up a deal should they offload England number one Jordan Pickford, while Bournemouth and Sheffield United have in the past been credited with interest.

But it is Saints’ interest that is reported as strongest, with a solution needed this summer as 34-year-old Fraser Forster approaches the final month of his contract.

As of last week, the Daily Echo understands the club had not approached Forster over a new deal, and that the former Celtic man was not aware Alex McCarthy was staying until it was revealed by the FA intermediary report.

Bazunu is tipped for a big future with seven international caps already racked up, including a penalty save from Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and winning Irish broadcaster RTE’s Young Player of the Year award.

Daily Echo: Gavin Bazunu during his loan at Portsmouth (Pic: PA)Gavin Bazunu during his loan at Portsmouth (Pic: PA)

With McCarthy staying at Saints and the club interested in bringing in a younger goalkeeper to push and learn from the 32-year-old, Bazunu could sort their goalkeeping situation for a decade to come.

The report also details that Manchester City could agree to sell the youngster, but with a buy-back clause inserted into the deal. This would be an agreement that resembles the Tino Livramento acquisition from Chelsea last summer.