Manchester United said what James Ward-Prowse would offer amid transfer speculation

Manchester United have been told that Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse ticks all the boxes to solve their biggest transfer conundrum. United are set to prioritize central midfield signings when they get down to business during the next window.

Having lost that position last summer, Manchester Evening News he understands the initial framework has been drawn up to try to sign Kalvin Phillips, while his England team-mate Declan Rice has long been seen as a prime target. That is despite concerns that West Ham will insist on his assessment amid other complications such as missing out on Champions League qualification.

Ward-Prowse has also been mooted as a possible alternative in that midfield quest. The 27-year-old has enjoyed his most prolific campaign yet with Southampton, and Manchester City is also linked with a £75m transfer.

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Ward-Prowse is known for his set-piece skills, scoring 14 direct free kicks over the course of his Premier League to date, meaning he is closing in on a record set by United great David Beckham ( 18). However, United and those other potential suitors have been told that is not the only string to his bow.

Speaking of Ward-Prowse on talkSPORT radio station, former teammate Charlie Austin said: “When I was there with him, he played second fiddle to [Victor] Wanyama, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jordy Clasie, Oriol Romeu, and Steven Davis. Maybe he just took his time and cemented himself as club captain, but certainly now is the time to go.”

Austin added: “I think if he wants to go to the World Cup, he needs to be at a different football club.” [compared] to what Southampton has to offer and how they are performing. I think he’s more attractive if he’s in a different club.

“He went through the academy and has been there for so many years. There hasn’t been the right opportunity.”

“I think now is the time for him to move. His set pieces are brilliant and he is probably going to beat David Beckham’s record, but the practicalities of his game, running hard, winning the ball and leading the team are phenomenal.”

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