Jake Hesketh was once considered a bright young prospect at Southampton who looked capable of breaking into the first team, but the midfielder is now 25 years old and is struggling on loan in League Two with Crawley Town, so he must be shown the door this summer.
He was rewarded by Claude Puel with another appearance in the Europa League in a 0-0 draw against Hapoel Be’er Sheva later in the season, but this was the last time he played for the Southampton first team, meaning he hasn’t made a senior Saints appearance in nearly five years.
In December 2016, the attacking midfielder was rewarded with a new four-and-a-half-year deal, which runs until the summer of 2021, so they clearly had a lot of faith in his ability and his potential to become a first team regular in the future.
However, after spending some time in the Southampton B team, Hesketh was sent out on his first loan spell to Burton Albion, where he contributed three goals and one assist in 23 League One appearances.
Two more loan spells at MK Dons and Lincoln City followed, although he struggled to have much impact at either club and was sent on loan to Crawley Town for the 2020/21 campaign.
It represents a serious decline for the midfielder that he was sent on loan to a struggling League Two side having previously been in League One, although his performances this season suggest that even the fourth tier might be a stretch too far for him.
It is clear that Hesketh is never going to make it at Southampton and it seems almost remarkable that he has been kept on their books for so long; and you could definitely suggest that he has been stealing a wage with the south coast club for the past few seasons.
Fortunately for Ralph Hasenhuttl, the midfielder’s contract is finally set to expire this summer, so the Austrian must ensure that Hesketh finally leaves the club and hopefully finds his feet somewhere else. Sadly, after a promising start with Southampton, his career has seriously declined.