Lukas Jutkiewicz, a former teammate of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, has told the Daily Express that it was always the Arsenal man who was tipped to be a global star ahead of the former Tottenham winger.
Jutkiewicz, who currently plays for Championship promotion contenders Burnley, spent three years in the Saints academy after joining at the age of 10, and played with England forward Walcott and Real Madrid star Bale in his time on the South coast as a youngster.
The 26-year-old claims that Welsh international Bale, who became the most expensive player in the history of football when he moved to the Spanish capital from Spurs in 2013 for around £85 million, was not particular better than any other player in the academy as a pre-teen.
Instead, the former Middlesbrough and Coventry City man says that it was Walcott who was a cut above the rest.
Jutkiewicz told the Daily Express: "We had Theo and Gareth in the team so we had a pretty decent side and a lot of us have gone to have decent careers in the game. But Theo was always the one who stood out early on.
"Everyone picked him out and knew that he was a little bit of a step above everyone else. They were expecting him to go on and have a very good career.
"Gareth was the surprise one really. He was exactly the same as everyone else but now he's come on leaps and bounds and it's incredible what he's gone on to achieve."
Unlike Jutkiewicz, both Walcott and Bale made their name at Southampton, with the Englishman being plucked from the club by Arsenal as a 16-year-old after catching attention with an impressive debut half-season for the club.
Meanwhile, Bale became the Saints' second-youngest player in history, after only Walcott, when he made his debut for the club four months after his fellow prodigy's departure, and won the Football League Player of the Year award in his only full season for Southampton the following campaign.