Jan Bednarek

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Jan Bednarek: the latest gem unearthed by Southampton?

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SOUTHAMPTON — The fans at Southampton call him the Polish Maldini. That tells you everything you need to know about how highly regarded Jan Bednarek is at Saints.

At 22 years of age, Bednarek is one of the first names on Southampton’s teamsheet and he’s enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 12 months. He has now kicked his game on to new levels under new Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

He throws his head in where it hurts, pulls off stunning last-ditch blocks and tackles, and his no-nonsense defending has seen him become a growing cult figure at Southampton. It has all happened rather quickly, too.

Last April he made his first start in the Premier League after arriving from Lech Poznan the previous summer for $7 million. He scored on his PL debut, a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea, and since then he’s played a pivotal role in Saints’ dramatic survival from relegation last season, scored a winning goal for Poland at the 2018 World Cup and is now one of the top emerging defenders in the Premier League.

Not too shabby. But sat in his training kit as the sun beats down on Southampton’s Staplewood training base, Bednarek is focused on one thing: beating Premier League title chasers Liverpool on Friday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at St Mary’s.

“The thing is, we need three points,” Bednarek says, matter of factly. “Of course, they fight for the title but the main thing is winning three points. We are going to fight for that. The main thing is to be brave. To do our best and we will find out after the game what we will happen… What I learned in England is that there are no easy games. We know their threat and all the great players they have, live Virgil Van Dijk who was here, and many others. Every single game is difficult. You have to do your best and focus on what you have been doing your whole life.”

One of the first things Hasenhuttl did when he took charge of Saints back in December was to bring in Bednarek from the cold. He had been bizarrely frozen out by Mark Hughes at the start of this season, but since Hasenhuttl arrived and Bednarek returned to the team, Saints have beaten Tottenham and Arsenal at home among seven wins which has seen them pull away from the relegation zone.

With Hasenhuttl’s side winning 24 points from his first 16 games in charge, Saints are on a huge upward curve.

Their high-pressing style is similar to that of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool (Klopp and Hasenhuttl did their coaching badges together in Germany) and they have regained their identity as the PL’s plucky upstarts. The atmosphere is now a positive one at St Mary’s, a place where they hadn’t won until early December this season.

“We are playing better as a team, and it is obvious that if we are playing better the atmosphere is going to be better,” Bednarek said. “The fans can see that we are getting better and better. They can see that if they push us forward we are going to do better. It is good. We need to keep going as a team and it will be even better.”

Bednarek also lifted the lid on what it is like behind-the-scenes at Saints’ training ground with Hasenhuttl implementing plenty of discipline and promoting young players from their famed academy to mix things up.

The Austrian coach has talked about how he keeps an eye on the amount of time players spend playing video games, while he also hands out a different sort of fine. It doesn’t come down to finances, but asking players to instead work in the club shop or put on training sessions for youth teams if they are late, don’t leave their locker tidy or anything of that nature.

“At the moment everyone is aware of it and everyone is afraid of the fines,” Bednarek laughed. “There hasn’t been a situation where someone has to spin the wheel. I think that is good that everyone is disciplined and everyone have the respect and needs respect the rules at the training ground.”

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Bednarek’s focus has been key to his rise at Saints, with the defender hiring a mental coach from the Poland national team to help him with the mental side of being an athlete. During his long spell on the sidelines at the start of this season, he admitted it was tough but the mental coaching helped him stay fit and focused for when his opportunity arrived.

At a club famed for bringing through young talent, Bednarek said getting the chance to play as a youngster was his main motivation to join the South Coast club. Saints currently have one of the youngest teams in the PL, and Bednarek believes they can field a team entirely under the age of 23 in the future, if the right situation arises.

The towering Polish defender also revealed he likes to get away from it all by going on walks with his dog, Candy, and his girlfriend Julia in the Hampshire countryside. But most of the time he likes to relax on days off from the gruelling training sessions put on by Hasenhuttl and his staff.

Growing up in Poland, Bednarek played in goal and as a striker with his older brother Filip, who plays as a goalkeeper in Holland, but said there wasn’t a defender he liked and wanted to imitate.

However, he admitted he now looks at Liverpool’s star center back Virgil van Dijk — the Reds bought VVD for a world-record fee for a defender from Southampton last January for $100 million — as the best player in his position in the world and someone he wants to emulate. Bednarek played with VVD for six months last season, and he has clearly left an impression on him.

“There were many players I liked, like Zidane, Ronaldo, but there was not a center back that I followed,” Bednarek said. “At the moment, when I started to play in this position I watched [Giorgio] Chiellini, I watched [Sergio] Ramos, now it is [Virgil] van Dijk. When you watch them you can improve. There are so many great players you can watch and keep improving.”

Many great players have learned and improved at Southampton in the past, and Bednarek is in line to be the next gem they’ve polished to perfection.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Matchweek 30 was a wild one in the Premier League, as plenty of stars shone brightly.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

After big wins for Southampton, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Cardiff, there is plenty of variety in our latest rankings.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Up 9
  2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 17
  3. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 1
  4. Sokratis (Arsenal) – Even
  5. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) – Up 8
  6. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Up 10
  7. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – New entry
  8. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 7
  9. Bernd Leno (Arsenal) – New entry
  10. Salomon Rondon (Newcastle) – New entry
  11. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) –  New entry
  12. Youri Tielemans (Leicester) – New entry
  13. Luke Shaw (Man United) – Down 4
  14. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry
  15. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) – New entry
  16. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Down 9
  17. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) – New entry
  18. David Silva (Man City) – New entry
  19. Jan Bednarek (Southampton) – New entry
  20. Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City) – New entry

Premier League player Power Rankings

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The latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here, and things are getting very interesting in the upper echelons.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

With big wins for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Wolves and Tottenham see plenty of their players feature.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Up 10
  2. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 9
  3. Sergio Aguero (Man City) – New entry
  4. Gonzalo Higuain (Chelsea) – New entry
  5. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Up 1
  6. Ben Foster (Watford) – New entry
  7. Paul Pogba (Man United) – Down 3
  8. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
  9. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – New entry
  10. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) – New entry
  11. David De Gea (Man United) – New entry
  12. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) – New entry
  13. Harry Maguire (Leicester) – Down 6
  14. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) – New entry
  15. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 1
  16. Declan Rice (West Ham) – New entry
  17. Bobby Reid (Cardiff City) – New entry
  18. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – Down 5
  19. Jan Bednarek (Southampton) – Down 5
  20. James Tarkowski (Burnley) – Down 5

Burnley deny Saints amid late penalty drama (video)

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  • Barnes equalizes in 94th minute
  • Redmond put Southampton ahead
  • Burnley six games unbeaten
  • Saints five games unbeaten

Burnley scored a 94th-minute equalizer to make draw 1-1 against Southampton at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Referee Anthony Taylor waved away Ashley Barnes‘ penalty appeals in the first half and Nathan Redmond gave Saints a second half lead. But after Barnes hit the crossbar and Burnley piled on the pressure late in the game, Taylor awarded the Clarets a penalty kick deep into stoppage time.

The penalty kick was the first they’ve received in 68 games.

With the point Burnley and Saints both have 24 points, with Southampton in 16th and one place ahead of their relegation rivals on goal difference.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Southampton had plenty of the ball early on and pinned Burnley back, with Danny Ings set free but Tom Heaton saved brilliantly.

James Ward-Prowse whipped in a cross which Matt Targett couldn’t get on the end of, then Nathan Redmond almost found Callum Slattery moments later.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Ashley Barnes then went close from a cross, as Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek blocked heroically. Ings then pulled up with an injury and was replaced by Shane Long and Chris Wood had a great chance to but Burnley ahead but after cutting inside he smashed well over.

A massive moment of controversy then arrived as Ashley Barnes was played in over the top and Alex McCarthy came rushing out. Southampton’s goalkeeper appeared to clip Barnes but nothing was given as Burnley’s striker was booked for his wild reaction to not getting a penalty kick.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Callum Slattery’s shot was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Phil Bardlsey hooked the ball off the line.

Heaton then denied Ward-Prowse’s header after Targett’s cross but he could do nothing to deny Redmond. The in-form winger surged towards Burnley’s defense, nutmegged Jack Cork and drilled home a low effort from distance to put Southampton ahead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Deadline Day signing Peter Crouch was sent on for his Burnley debut late in the game and the home side launched plenty of long balls into the box, but McCarthy saved very well from Barnes.

Barnes then went even closer to scoring as he smashed a volley towards goal but it hit the crossbar and flew over.

But Barnes was to have the last laugh as a cross into the box in the 94th-minute saw Jack Stephens handle under pressure from Crouch and Barnes scored the penalty kick to snatch a point.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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The latest Premier League player Power Rankings are out, and there is a lot of movement and new entries across the creme de la creme.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

Stars from Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all feature, as Arsenal also have a few new entries after their big win against Chelsea. The latter have nobody in the top 20…

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Up 5
  2. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal) – New entry
  3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Up 1
  4. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
  5. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) – New entry
  6. Paul Pogba (Man United) – Down 1
  7. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) – New entry
  8. Jan Bednarek (Southampton) – Even
  9. David De Gea (Man United) – Down 8
  10. Fernandinho (Man City) – Down 1
  11. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – New entry
  12. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – New entry
  13. Fabinho (Liverpool) – Down 4
  14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 4
  15. Leroy Sane (Man City) – Down 4
  16. Raheem Sterling (Man City) –  Down 3
  17. Aymeric Laporte (Man City) – Down 3
  18. Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) – New entry
  19. Fabian Schar (Newcastle United) – New entry
  20. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – New entry