Southampton brought down Charlie Austin from Queens Park Rangers for a fee believed to be around £4million. David Sullivan, chairman of West Ham United, has stated that the Saints – whom his club faces on Saturday night – have managed to secure his services on a cheap.

The former Birmingham chairman admitted his admiration for the England international, branding the latter’s climb through the English football pyramid as inspiring. He stated that the former Burnley man could be deemed to be a bargain at thrice the amount Ronald Koeman had paid the Hoops and added that he would have entered a bidding war with Southampton had he been aware of the situation.

The 26-year-old had been playing non-league football until his 22nd birthday and has moved back to Premier League for only his second season in the top-flight. The Hammers chairman claimed that half the Premier League clubs would have tried to sign him had they known about his availability.

“Our next league game is away at Southampton and I just want to clarify my views on the Charlie Austin situation,” said the Hammers’ chairman. “Contrary to reports, he is a player I have always greatly admired and his climb through the divisions is inspiring. I once said at £12m he was a gamble, with his injury record.

“However, if his financial demands are reasonable, Southampton have got fantastic value at £4m. Had I known he was available at that price, I would have taken the gamble myself, and I am sure half the Premier League clubs would have as well.”

Charlie Austin made the perfect start to his Southampton career as he came off the bench to score the winner at Old Trafford but sat out the midweek Emirates Stadium trip with a knock. However, the Saints boss believes he will make the matchday squad when he takes his personnel to Upton Park this weekend.

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