Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are set to go head to head in the pursuit of Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse.

According to The Telegraph, Tottenham Hotspur have joined the race to sign James Ward-Prowse. They are ready to rival Aston Villa in the pursuit of the Southampton midfielder, who has emerged as a top target for both the clubs heading into this final week before the new season of the Premier League gets underway.

Part of the Southampton side since 2003, Ward-Prowse is a homegrown star who has etched his name as one of the most easily recognizable figures in the club, so far in the 21st century. Though only 26, the midfielder has mustered 322 competitive appearances for the Saints, scoring 33 goals while chipping in with 40 assists.

The Portsmouth native has built quite a reputation for being a creative midfielder, who can create chances and is highly proficient from set-pieces. As such, he remains Aston Villa’s top target, in Dean Smith’s bid to reinforce his midfield department, following the record-breaking departure of Jack Grealish to Manchester City.

Ward-Prowse is not a replacement for Grealish, but he can certainly build a formidable partnership alongside the likes of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz next season. Aston Villa, though, are preparing fallback options, with RC Lens’ Cheick Doucoure emerging as one of them.

Liverpool's Croatian defender Dejan Lovren (R) tackles Southampton's English midfielder James Ward-Prowse during the EFL (English Football League) Cup semi-final first-leg football match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on January 11, 2017. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

James Ward-Prowse is viewed as a reliable chance creator. (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

As for Tottenham, they had been interested in the Southampton midfielder even under the reign of Mauricio Pochettino, who had worked with the Englishman during their time together at St. Mary’s Stadium. And it seems new coach Nuno Espirito Santo is intent on following up on the Argentine’s wishes by signing the 26-year-old this summer.

The Lilywhites do not lack options in the creative department, boasting the services of players like Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele. However, the club has lacked a stable figure alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in central midfield, with the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks underwhelming a great deal.

James Ward-Prowse could thus be a sensible investment. But there is no doubt that Southampton will be determined to keep hold of their club captain, especially after losing out on the services of star striker Danny Ings, who moved to Aston Villa in a shock deal.

The Saints, though, are prepared, in case the England international does leave the club this summer. In fact, one of their main targets this summer is former academy starlet and current Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is in contention for a return to St. Mary’s Stadium.

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