Russell Martin acknowledges that he would dearly want to have Joel Piroe on his team, but he refuted rumors that Southampton was interested in acquiring the striker before he joined Leeds United.
Near the end of the summer transfer season, The Athletic claimed [23 August] that Southampton and Leicester City were competing with Leeds for the Dutchman.
Piroe ultimately agreed to a £10 million transfer from Swansea City to United and has had a successful start to life at Elland Road.
As reported by Southern Daily Echo journalist Alfie House on Twitter [29 September], Martin was asked about his side’s interest in the player ahead of facing Leeds at St Mary’s on Saturday [30 September].
“Russell Martin asked about Joel Piroe. Said he was never a player that was an option to sign due to those already at the club,” House tweeted.
“Admits of course he would have wanted him. Great character and understands the aims. Reiterates he’s happy with current options here.
It is easy for Martin to say now, after Piroe has joined Leeds, that his side were never realistically in for the player – and that may well be the case.
But having worked closely with Piroe at Swansea, Martin surely would have pushed his club to go all out for the former PSV ace.
After all, Southampton went out and spent £10m – the same fee Leeds paid for Piroe – on Ross Stewart from Sunderland at the end of the window.
Is it any coincidence that the Saints made that move just a few days after Piroe arrived at Elland Road?
With four goals in five games, the prolific striker is on his way to another productive season in the Championship.
And, knowing how football works, you can bet Piroe will score against his previous manager when Leeds plays Southampton this weekend.
In unrelated Leeds United news, manager Daniel Farke believes his team could not be facing Southampton at a “worse time.”