One of English soccer’s best academies is getting stronger.
And you’ll be able to see plenty of their products in Premier League action this season.
From the academy that brought you Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier, Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the next batch of youngsters are coming through.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino and his staff are expecting big things. Given the clubs history in producing players of exemplary quality, you can understand why.
Earlier today 18-year-old right back Calum Chambers signed a four-year deal with the Saints. He is the sixth player to roll off the production line and sign for the first-team in the last 12 months.
Not bad, right?
But you may be thinking that plenty of youngsters will be signed on by Premier League teams this summer, whats the big deal? The difference is, at Southampton they play.
In recent preseason friendlies against Schalke and Besiktas, Saints had seven academy products feature in the match. Chambers was at right back, Jordan Turnbull and Jack Stephens split time as central defenders and there was the hugely-talented Luke Shaw at left back. Then you had England U-20 international James Ward-Prowse in midfield, Welsh under-21 star Lloyd Isgrove out wide and captain Adam Lallana in the attacking midfield role.
The spine of Southampton’s team this preseason is homegrown. That is the “Southampton Way.”
If you wander around their training ground and saw a glimpse of Southampton’s training bases in Spain and Austria over the past few weeks, that term, “The Southampton Way” is emblazoned on walls, advertising boards and just about everywhere.
It is infectious. The players, and now the new management staff, have bought into the philosophy developed by ambitious Chairman Nicola Cortese.
Argentine manager Pochettino arrived in January and has shown plenty of faith in the clubs young talent. He performed that role admirably at Espanyol in La Liga too. So here’s what he said about the clubs vision.
From the beginning of my time at Southampton, Nicola spoke to me of his project of bringing young talented players through the Academy and into the First Team, and that was something that really appealed to me. To now see Calum – along with many others – make that step up pays great testament to the hard work that goes on here that is driven from the very top.
Luke Shaw, 18, was wanted by Manchester United and Chelsea this summer after excelling in his first season as a pro in the PL. He turned them down to sign a five-year deal with Saints. Captain Lallana has been at Saints throughout his career and has been called up to the England first-team. He signed a new deal. The list goes on and on.
But the South Coast club have spent big over the summer too, splashing out over $32 million on Victor Wanyama and Croatian defender Dejan Lovren.
That “Southampton Way” we referred to has been present for many years. It’s not a new thing. But the club hasn’t always been able to keep its best young talent. But that’s not the case anymore.
Bale, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to the Premier League because Saints were in the lower divisions of English soccer. But now they’re back in the top flight, there’s no reason for this exciting crop of talented youngsters to leave Southampton.
Will the “Southampton Way” work this season as they aim to finish in the top half of the Premier League?