Southampton previously held discussions to sign an exciting overseas striker, but a deal failed to come to fruition for one specific reason, according to a fresh report.
Southampton’s summer signings
The St. Mary’s Stadium outfit recruited eight faces over the summer, with Ross Stewart, Shea Charles, Ryan Manning and Joe Lumley all joining on a permanent basis, whilst Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Mason Holgate, Flynn Downes and Ryan Fraser signed on loan.
Russell Martin’s side have made a positive start to the new season and find themselves fourth in the Championship table, and whilst the squad that they have right now have proven to be capable of reaching high standards, the manager almost made his ranks even stronger.
Santos centre-forward Marcos Leonardo has made 164 appearances across all age levels since getting promoted from his club’s academy to the first-team (Transfermarkt – Leonardo statistics), and his performances over the course of his career are believed to have formerly caught the eye on the south coast.
Brazil’s youth international has firmly established himself as Marcelo Faria Fernandes’ best-performing offensive player so far this season (WhoScored – Santos statistics), so it’s easy to see why he used to be a target for chiefs, and it appears that a transfer was close to taking place at the end of last year.
Southampton’s talks for Marcos Leonardo
According to Brazilian outlet Trivela (via Football League World), Southampton entered discussions to sign Leonardo in December 2022. Saints “were in talks” to secure the services of the striker, with Santos even keen to complete the deal, but in the end, the player himself, alongside his representatives, rejected the opportunity to join.
It’s believed he didn’t feel like it would have been a good move for the next stage of his career, so perhaps this could be one to revisit if they can earn promotion at the first time of asking.
Leonardo is a “natural goalscorer”
While there’s no point dwelling on the past and what might have been, Leonardo is constantly able to pose a real threat to an opposition’s defence when leading the line through the middle, so there’s no doubt that should this deal be revisited, he would be a remarkable recruit for Southampton.
Sponsored by Nike, Itapetinga’s native has clocked up 65 involvements (54 goals and 11 assists) in 164 outings since bursting onto the scene, showing how prolific he can be in the final third, and he’s always looking to hit the back of the net. Fernandes’ £9k-per-week earner (Santos salaries), has recorded a total of 70 shots over the course of the current campaign, which is more than any of his fellow teammates (FBRef – Santos statistics).
Given Leonardo’s track record – he’s been dubbed a “natural goalscorer” by football talent scout Jacek Kulig – it’s a real shame that he didn’t feel like the next destination to progress his career was St. Mary’s Stadium, but a return to the top flight could go a long way to changing that.