For all those that want to see a Premier League football club that have the right balance of foreign players and home-grown superstars, look at Southampton FC. The South Coast club have an enviable blend of players that have been brought through their fabled youth academy and quality foreign signings.
Greg Dyke has been verbal in his mission to transform the fate of the England national side by making changes in the Premier League – if all clubs were run like the Saints, Roy Hodgson would have a lot more players to pick from.
The club’s academy has quite the reputation for unearthing new talent, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain graduates of the club. The latest batch have the potential to be international stars in the making, and are being handed regular top-flight football to aid their development.
Luke Shaw is a name on everyone’s lips, as the mercurial 18-year-old takes to Premier League football like a seasoned professional. Despite being linked with a host of top English clubs, he has extended his contract with Southampton and recently made his debut for England under-21’s.
Other teenagers graduating from the Saints’ academy and now looking important in the team’s plans include James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers. Despite their age, these young stars have impressed in the fledgling days of their careers, and their inclusion will be a tonic to Dyke and Hodgson. There is undoubtedly more prospects on the production line.
Looking at the foreign players that Southampton have brought in of late, it is evident that the side are looking for quality, not quantity. There have been a number of players that have moved to St Mary’s slightly unexpectedly given the team’s relatively new status in the top flight, and they have pulled off some exceptional coups in the transfer market.
Gaston Ramirez’s addition last summer was something of a surprise given the Uruguayan’s standing in the game, and he has been followed to the south coast by the likes of Victor Wanyama, Dejan Lovren and Pablo Osvaldo. All international-calibre players who can help the young stars to develop and will slot straight into the starting XI.
It is evident that instead of filling his squad with foreign imports, Mauricio Pochettino has focused on signing players that will benefit the team and make them better. As a result there are few foreign fringe players – instead the young stars of the academy are progressed through the ranks. In the Saints’ last Premier League game, five of the seven substitutes were from the UK.
Southampton is a club that Roy Hodgson and Greg Dykes should be using as a blueprint for others to follow if England are to challenge internationally again. Their blend of top-quality foreign signings and a productive youth system is refreshing.
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