Stade Rennes president Nicolas Holveck has said he knew from the onset that Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu preferred the English Premier League to the French League.
The 21-year-old is reportedly close to joining Southampton after agreeing a four-year deal and completing his medical examination.
Salisu was one of the standout players for Real Valladolid in the just ended 2019/20 LaLiga season after making 31 league appearances, scoring one goal, and registering one assist.
"Unfortunately, we knew from the start, Salisu preferred the Premier League because he is English-speaking," Holveck told RMC Sport.
"He told us very humbly, and we respect his choice, that the Premier League was his priority. We had doubts about his ability to obtain the work permit in England. It seems that he has acquired this permit.
"He would, therefore, be moving towards the Premier League. We were his first choice in case of non-obtaining of the license. Today, the position of central defender is the priority of our transfer window."
Manchester United, West Ham United, Arsenal, and Everton were also reported to be interested in acquiring his services this summer.