Wales and Scarlets star George North linked with a move away from Parc y Scarlets
WALES and Scarlets star George North has been linked with a move away from Parc y Scarlets at the end of the season with Northampton Saints understood to be leading the chase.
The 20-year-old wing, a member of Wales's Six Nations title-winning side, still has another year remaining on his contract with the Scarlets, but could leave if the region wanted to cash in on their biggest name.
The Scarlets were refusing to comment on the latest speculation with a spokesperson saying: "As is always the case we do not discuss speculation in the media. George has another year remaining on his contract with the Scarlets."
North, a hot favourite to wear the British Lions Test jersey in Australia this summer, would command a significant transfer fee if a club were to try and prise him away from Llanelli.
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Saracens have also been linked with the North Walian powerhouse.
The loss of such a key player would be a massive blow to the Scarlets even if it would help with the financial situation at the region.
Clubs from France and England will be lining up for his signature if he stayed for another season and the Scarlets wouldn't come close to competing with the salary likely to be on offer.
If North does move on he would become the latest high-profile name to leave Welsh rugby, following fellow internationals Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate, who are set to link up at Racing Metro next season.
There have been repeated calls for the Welsh Rugby Union to act to try and stop the player drain out of the domestic game, although the parties involved in the new Professional Rugby Game Board, set up last year to try and solve the problem, have struggled to make any sort of progress.
The Saints have already made one raid into Welsh rugby in recent months, signing Ospreys' Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and director of rugby Jim Mallinder recently told a Saints' fan forum that "a big, strong winger" was top of his shopping list for next season. At 6ft 4in and more than 17 stone, North would certainly fit that bill.