Charlie Austin is playing a dangerous game and is on the edge of damaging his reputation with the Southampton fans.
Last weekend he rejected a move to West Brom, according to The Birmingham Mail. They claimed the striker wanted to stay at St. Mary’s and fight for his place. The Midlands-based club are looking for a replacement up-front after they sold former Southampton player Jay Rodriguez to Burnley.
Austin has been linked with a move away from the south coast, as reported by The Sun. They suggested there are four teams trying to sign the forward. They believe Aston Villa, Fulham and Crystal Palace are also interested.
The 30-year-old was left out of the pre-season training squad to Austria, and remained at Staplewood with the other players the club are trying to sell, according to The Daily Echo.
In a separate report from the same outlet, they claim Ralph Hasenhuttl is eager to move the Englishman on. According to the article, Austin wanted assurances over first-team football, which the Austrian could not give. And since the signing of Che Adams, any opportunities for regular football must be even more restricted.
Austin has just one year remaining on his contract, so he could wait it out until next summer and move for free but, by doing that, he runs the risk of missing a year of football.
Inferring that he is being frozen out of the club, he posted a GIF on his official Twitter page of a man covered in snow and ice. This infuriated The Saints fans, and he has since deactivated that account.
Whether he ends up staying and fighting for his place or remaining just to run down his contract, he must behave in a better manner, or risk becoming a villain figure at the club.
In the past few weeks, we have seen Marko Arnautovic, Antoine Griezmann, and Neymar essentially go on strike in order to force transfers through. Austin doesn’t have to act like those players, since there are clubs that are interested in signing him, and Hasenhuttl is prepared to let him leave.
In his three-and-a-half seasons at St. Mary’s, Austin has scored 20 times, despite only making 77 appearances, with injuries and competition from other strikers limiting his chances.
He could have left as a player the fans respected, but he is close to losing that.