Maro Itoje looks set to remain with Saracens
Last Updated: 26/06/20 9:04am
England lock Maro Itoje looks set to remain with Saracens next season, despite their relegation to the Championship.
The 25-year-old had been in talks to join French side Racing 92, but that move is unlikely to go ahead due to complications over Itoje's availability to represent England if playing overseas.
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That means Itoje is unlikely to join the list of players leaving Saracens as they prepare for life in England's second tier.
"It's still to be confirmed but I'm 95 per cent sure where I will be," Itoje told the Political Thinking podcast earlier this week.
Fellow England internationals Jamie George, Elliot Daly and Billy Vunipola also look set to remain at Allianz Park next season.
George Kruis is joining the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan, while scrum-half Ben Spencer is moving to Bath. Nick Isiekwe will join Northampton and Alex Lozowski will join Montpellier on season-long loans.
Itoje is a leading contender to captain the British and Irish Lions next summer on their tour to South Africa next summer and will want to have the opportunity to play in plenty of competitive games to showcase himself.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland admitted last week "Itoje is the name that keeps cropping up" with regard to the captaincy.
Saracens were in talks with world champions South Africa over a potential fixture next season at Allianz Park, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, in an attempt to arrange competitive matches to keep the likes of Itoje and Owen Farrell match-fit.
Saracens also held talks with Super Rugby sides as part of the plan, which had the backing of Gatland and England coach Eddie Jones.
However, those negotiations have been put on hold as Six Nations and southern hemisphere rugby body SANZAAR work together to develop proposals for an aligned global calendar.
Another potential complicating factor for the future of Itoje, who is contracted to Saracens until 2022, is the reduction of Premiership Rugby's salary cap from £6.4m to £5m from the start of the 2021-22 season.
It will make it difficult for Sarries to keep hold of Farrell, Itoje, George, Daly and the Vunipola brothers, while saving in excess of £1m.