Ryan Finnigan could be the next breakthrough talent at Southampton as Ralph Hasenhuttl is a big fan of the Saints academy product, according to The Athletic.

Hasenhuttl is likely keen to limit the speed of Finnigan’s continued rise on the south coast since his debut in January. The Austrian handed the midfielder his senior bow in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town and named him in three further first-team squads last season.

Finnigan last made a competitive roster in February, but Hasenhuttl has offered the 17-year-old further chances to train with the first-team this summer. He also unleashed the central technician against Swansea City during a 3-1 win at the Liberty Stadium last month.

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Finnigan replaced Stuart Armstrong against last season’s defeated Championship play-off semi-finalists, coming on for the final quarter of an hour. Marking his longest senior outing to date, having been a stoppage-time replacement for Ibrahima Diallo against Shrewsbury.

But despite awarding limited chances, Hasenhuttl is a big supporter of Southampton’s Finnigan and may tap into it next season. That could soon return his Premier League bow, with the youngster in line for a regular place in matchday squads.

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Hasenhuttl has only awarded five teenagers their Premier League debuts since replacing Mark Hughes in charge at Southampton in 2018. Kayne Ramsey was the first and youngest at 18, along with Alexandre Jankewitz, Allan Tchaptchet, Caleb Watts and Callum Slattery.

Southampton gem Finnigan to be Hasenhuttl’s youngest ever league debutant?

Hasenhuttl unleashing Finnigan next season could see the teenager become his youngest Southampton debutant in the Premier League, then. The Saints product turns 18 in September, giving him around three months to snatch the honour from Ramsey.

Ramsey is also Hasenhuttl’s youngest top-flight debutant for any side at 18-years, two-months and 20-days, just edging Dayot Upamecano. The centre-half made his Bundesliga debut for RB Leipzig at 18-years, three-months and eight-days.

Finnigan has high support at Southampton beyond Hasenhuttl, as well. Academy Director Matt Hale told the Saints’ website after he signed a professional contract in December:

“Ryan has been through our pathway from a very early age and is a fine prodigy. He is not only an excellent player with high potential but emulates our club ethos and values, and plays with a maturity well above his years.”

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