Fab's back

Tuesday 18 December 2001

Fulham ex-loanee Fabrice Fernandes could be back playing in England if signed by Southampton who are battling for his signature with two other Premiership clubs.

Fernandes is currently on loan at French giants Marseille, but they cannot afford to sign him and the player has attracted the interest of the three English sides and a number of French clubs.

The Saints have held talks with the French winger, who watched the side's 2-0 win over Sunderland last weekend, and St Mary's boss Gordon Strachan is keen to push through a deal, according to the player's agent Willie MacKay.

Strachan would like to bring in the former French Under-21 international as he battles to avoid relegation, but the deal has been delayed as he still has to be given the go-ahead by Saints chairman Rupert Lowe to finalise a deal believed to be in the region of £1 million.

"Fabrice was the guest of Gordon Strachan at Southampton for the Sunderland game last weekend," MacKay told planetfootball.com. "He has held talks and he has been offered a four-year deal.

"Gordon is desperate to sign him, but he is waiting for the backing of Rupert Lowe and I would expect him to get it."

The Scot could face the prospect of losing out on the talented midfielder with Fernandes expected to hold talks with the two other interested clubs, and MacKay admitted that there has been a lot of interest in him from all over but that he is keen to return to England. "There are two other Premiership clubs interested in Fabrice and he is to hold talks with them in the next 48 hours," revealed MacKay.

"He wants to play in The Premiership and he looks a bargain."

Fernandes established himself in England as one of the brightest young prospects last season with some impressive performances in The Cottagers` promotion-winning campaign.

The 22-year-old scored two goals in 29 games for Fulham, including a stunning free-kick against Manchester United in the FA Cup, and it was expected that he would move to Craven Cottage on a permanent basis, but he fell out with boss Jean Tigana.

The Frenchman then made a loan move to Rangers, but his stay at Ibrox was short-lived as he played just four games before returning to Rennes.