Southampton are reportedly, finally, ready to make an offer for Sporting defender Ruben Semedo.

According to Portuguese newspaper Record, the Saints are expected to offer €20m for the player before the end of the week.

By making this move, Claude Puel’s side will be outbidding Newcastle who, as reported by the outlet, have recently offered €12m plus €3m in bonuses.

Southampton’s €20m bid is exactly what Sporting are demanding for the player right now, even though Semedo has a €45m release clause.

Record claims that Southampton have been following the defender since Ronald Koeman was their manager between 2014 and 2016, and now see him as an alternative to Virgil van Dijk.

Crystal Palace and West Ham are also said to be interested, but they have less resources to enter the race. French side Lille, who were said to be in pole position a week ago, have now been left behind as well.

If Rafael Benitez’s interest is as serious as has been reported, then Newcastle United need to return with a stronger offer.