Southampton are leading the race to sign Manchester United midfielder James Garner, who is also a target for Tottenham, Everton and Nottingham Forest.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Southampton are currently the frontrunners to secure the signing of Manchester United academy graduate James Garner, who will be allowed to leave this summer. The 21-year-old is also on the radars of Tottenham, Everton and Nottingham Forest but could be headed to St Mary’s imminently.

Garner is a product of the Manchester United youth academy and made his first-team debut for the club in 2019 under then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but has played just seven times for the Red Devils. His last competitive appearance for the club came in December 2019.

Garner spent the first half of the 2020/21 season with Watford before joining Nottingham Forest in January 2021. After impressing at the City Grounds over the next six months, the midfielder returned to the club on loan last summer and enjoyed a hugely productive campaign. He was a critical part of Steve Cooper’s side that won promotion to the Premier League.

Back at Manchester United, Garner has been on the radars of Forest, who are considering a permanent move for the Englishman. Everton have also taken an interest in the 21-year-old Merseyside-born midfielder and launched an approach recently, while Tottenham Hotspur are also keen. However, it is Southampton who are leading the race to sign Garner.

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Southampton have adopted a youth-centric recruitment strategy under Ralph Hasenhuttl and have recruited prospects like Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia from Manchester City, along with Armel Bella-Kotchap and Sekou Mara, among others. And they are keen on continuing the same approach by swooping in for Garner.

Considering that they have already strengthened their midfield department with the signings of Joe Aribo and Lavia, questions remain over the game-time Garner would stand to receive, as he would also have to compete with James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Stuart Armstrong.

However, as things stand, Southampton are leading the pack in pursuit of Garner, who could be available for around £15-20 million. The Saints face Manchester United on August 27, and Garner could line up against his boyhood club when that day comes.

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