Middlesbrough have reportedly stepped up their efforts to sign Gaston Ramirez when his Southampton contract expires this summer.
The 25-year-old Uruguay international attacking midfielder, who joined the Saints in a Â£12million deal from Bologna in summer 2012, struggled for first-team action during his stay at St Mary’s and spent the 2014-15 campaign on loan with Hull.
A permanent move to the KC Stadium failed to materialise as Ramirez struggled for form and the Tigers were relegated to the Championship.
He returned to the Saints’ last summer and made just three appearances – mainly in the Capital One Cup – before joining Boro in January.
Ramirez rediscovered his form on Teesside with seven goals in 18 Championship appearances to help the side secure automatic promotion back to the Premier League following a seven-year absence.
He has flourished in a role just before a main forward at the Riverside Stadium, while he is in the company of fellow Uruguayans, Cristhian Stuani, Carlos de Pena and goalkeeper coach Leo Percovich.
Ramirez, who is also wanted by clubs in Italy’s Serie A and China, hinted in March that he would be interested in staying at Boro if they won promotion.
And reports claim the club have already offered him a bumper deal as reward for taking a pay cut in January to help them get back to the top flight.
It’s hoped that Ramirez could seal a Bosman free transfer switch before he returns to South America to play for Uruguay in this summer’s Copa America.