Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton revolution has seen the likes of Yan Valery feature far more often for the first team, repaying the Austrian’s faith in him.
The Saints youth academy has produced talents such as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, of course, Gareth Bale in recent years – can Christoph Klarer follow in their footsteps?
The 18-year-old is surely knocking on the door already and the need for a new centre-back is becoming clear, with Maya Yoshida ageing and Jack Stephens perhaps too error-prone, so he could make his first-team bow far sooner than anticipated.
The Austrian has been integral to Radhi Jaidi’s Under-23’s this campaign having made the step up from captaining the Under-18’s effortlessly, and he is hoping to play his way into Hasenhuttl’s first team in the near future.
The former Rapid Vienna youngster is clearly highly-rated at Southampton – his solid showings this campaign were rewarded with a two-year contract extension which will ensure he remains at St Mary’s Stadium until 2021.
The aforementioned Valery recently put pen to paper on a new deal – an indicator of the success he has found since graduating from the academy – and perhaps he could be joined by Klarer in defence soon.
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There are a number of areas in need of addressing in the transfer market this summer although it’s unlikely Southampton will be able to fix them all in the way they would like to, so Klarer’s progression could mean that they don’t have to spend a penny on the defence.
The 6 ft 3 centre-half could chalk up an imposing partnership with Jan Bednarek in the coming years under Hasenhuttl’s careful tutelage in his preferred 4-2-2-2 system, and perhaps evolve into the next centre-back to be championed by the Southampton faithful following Virgil van Dijk’s departure last year.