Southampton will not put the blockers on a move away for James Ward-Prowse should a club come in with a reasonable bid with Newcastle United looking to move for the England star.

James Ward-Prowse is highly likely to leave Southampton at the end of the season with the Saints looking doomed to life in the Championship and Newcastle want him on Tyneside.

A report in The Athletic has claimed Newcastle or Aston Villa would be his likely destination after the Villains failed in an attempt to land him in 2021. Newcastle have been keeping an eye on him for a couple of months too and with European football nailed on for next season, need to add more depth to their squad.

Southampton’s Ward-Prowse is so much more than a dead-ball specialist

Everybody knows how deadly James Ward-Prowse is from a set-piece. He’s scored more goals from outside the area in the last six seasons than anyone else with 18 (15 of which were free-kicks). The next highest scorer of direct free-kicks in that same time is another Newcastle target, James Maddison with eight. So you can see the level we’re dealing with.

What’s often overlooked though, is how good JWP is in normal play, too. The man grafts more than anyone for Southampton as their captain and highest earner. His creativity goes unnoticed by most, but he’s actually sitting fourth in the Premier League for chances created this season, behind Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne and our very own Kieran Trippier. On top of that, only Trippier has created more chances from set-pieces.

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That’s an impressive stat in itself, but when you consider Southampton’s league position versus the other players’ respective clubs, it’s actually phenomenal. If Southampton actually had forwards capable of converting those chances then they’d be much higher up the table.

Recently Trippier made a bit of a slip in an interview when asked about Ward-Prowse potentially switching from Southampton to Newcastle, he said: ““I’ll be off them [the set pieces] won’t I, when he comes? If he comes!” Of course, Tripps was just joking, but it certainly got tongues wagging.

If Ward-Prowse’s options are Newcastle or Villa surely there’s only one winner

At 28 now is the ideal time for Ward-Prowse to test himself at the top level if he wants to establish himself in the England set-up. Newcastle need more squad depth, he needs to stay in the Premier League. The only issue I see here is money.

Southampton will not stand in his way according to The Athletic, but they also won’t want to lose him too cheaply. I’d like to think that if it came down to Newcastle or Aston Villa, JWP would pick Newcastle – a more exciting project, European football and a club that’s now genuinely challenging for trophies. It’s a no-brainer for me.

I’m a huge fan of Ward-Prowse so I’d love to see him pinging in those free-kicks in the black and white of Newcastle next season. Imagine the look of panic on ‘keeper’s faces when JWP and Trippier stand over the ball when the Mags have a free-kick.

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