Southampton have been linked with a £10m bid for QPR striker Charlie Austin as they attempt to stave off interest from Newcastle and West Brom.
Earlier in May, Chelsea and Liverpool too were rumoured to monitoring the 25-year-old, who has struck 17 Premier League goals in 30 games this season.
The Magpies are 7/4 favourites to stable the former Swindon and Burnley hitman, with Tottenham (6/1), Bournemouth (8/1) and Tottenham (8/1) are all considered more likely to land him before the close of the next window than the 12/1 Saints.
Such an open betting heat for Austin’s signature suggests a serious scrum lies ahead, with QPR director of football Sir Les Ferdinand insistent that he will not be sold cheaply despite having only one year left on his contract.
The sheer volume of the ex-bricklayer’s admirers suggests none are put off by his susceptibility to what has proved a next to common ailment in recent years.
‘Second-Season Striker Syndrome’, a creeping affliction that has been known to catch up with many a Football League artisan turned legitimate Premier League goal threat.
Recent years have seen archetypal lower-division journeymen Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert advertise the value of a hard-knocks education in their first year at the top-table, with differing subsequent results.
In 2011/12, the incredible Holt belied the fact that he had left Nottingham Forest for Shrewsbury having failed to make the grade four seasons prior to bagging 15 times in 24 starts and 12 substitute appearances.
A year Lambert capped a remarkable ride from League One to the Premier League with 15 strikes.
Yet the divergent paths taken by their second seasons highlight the difficulties of reproducing such form as an entity better known to one’s opponents.
Holt found things far harder in his second campaign at the highest domestic level, netting only eight times, suggesting it is by no means certain that Austin will be able to reproduce his penalty-fuelled tally next term.
In doing so he emulated the likes of Marcus Stewart, who hit 21 goals in 41 games for Ipswich following their promotion in 2001/02, ten the next season and seven following a move to Sunderland the campaign after that.
Even Kevin Phillips, the last Englishman to top-score in a Premier League season in 1999/00, managed less than half the 30 of his first top-flight campaign a year later.
Impressively Lambert did manage to avoid the ravages Second-Season Striker Syndrome last term, hitting 13 goals and providing ten assists to his teammates.
However, it has caught up with him belatedly following his ‘dream’ move to Liverpool, where he has struck twice in 23 league games this term.