Fulham have emerged as front-runners in the race to sign Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse, according to the Press Association.

The Whites have identified the Saints skipper as a summer signing to boost their creativity in midfield and the England international is keen on a move to Craven Cottage. Southampton are believed to be holding out for an offer of around £30m for Ward-Prowse, who has three years left on his contract at St. Mary’s, but is likely to leave this summer after the Saints were relegated having finished bottom of the Premier League table.

PA reporter Nick Mashiter claims that the 28 year-old midfielder, who came through the Southampton academy to make more than 400 first-team appearances, has already rebuffed interest from Brentford and West Ham United. The Portsmouth-born ball-playing midfielder would prefer to sign for Marco Silva. The set-piece specialist feels that the Portuguese head coach’s footballing philosophy would be the best fit with his own attributes as he mulls over his next move.

Ward=Prowse apologised to the Southampton fans following their failure to avoid relegation but knows he must remain in the top flight to keep his hopes of a return to Gareth Southgate’s England squad alive. He has scored 55 goals in 409 games since breaking into the first-team aged sixteen in 2011. He caught Silva’s eye in Fulham’s 2-1 win over the Saints at Craven Cottage at the end of December, when he curled in a stunning equaliser from a free-kick.

He has won eleven senior caps for England, scoring two goals, and starred as the Saints reached the League Cup final in 2017, when they suffered a heatrbeaking late defeat to Manchester United.