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Premier League sides Everton and Southampton are set to battle it out for Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Semedo, having regularly sent scouts to monitor the defender’s progress, according to a report in The Sun.

Despite recently falling out of favour at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, the 22-year-old has only just signed a contract extension with the Primeira Liga outfit and is expected to command a transfer fee of at least £20 million.

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Saints manager Claude Puel has identified the Portugal under-21 international as the ideal replacement for Jose Fonte, who he lost to West Ham United during the January transfer window.

Martin Caceres, who moved to St Mary’s Stadium as a free agent last month, is yet to feature for Southampton, whilst influential defenders Virgil van Dijk and Cedric Soares have been linked with moves Manchester City and Barcelona respectively.

It is understood that whilst they are determined to hang on to captain van Dijk, they would not stand in the way of Soares, should the Catalan giants make a concrete offer.

Meanwhile, Everton boss Ronald Koeman, who spent two years in charge at St Mary’s, is also believed to be a keen admirer of Semedo and will no doubt be handed a significant transfer budget by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

The two Premier League sides are not alone in their pursuit of the 22-year-old, with Italian giants AC Milan also believed to be monitoring the defender’s progress.