Southampton currently have a number of players in their squad that have progressed through the club’s youth system such as James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Tella, Theo Walcott, Will Smallbone and Yan Valery among others.
One other current senior Saints star that worked his way through the youth system at the south coast club is defender Jack Stephens, who joined the youth ranks back in 2011 from Plymouth Argyle.
Since making his senior debut for the Saints back in January 2012 in an FA Cup victory over Coventry City, Stephens has gone on to make a total of 139 senior appearances for the club across all competitions, chipping in with six goals and five assists along the way.
The 27-year-old, who is currently valued at £7.2m according to Transfermarkt, played every minute of league action for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side before unfortunately picking up a serious knee injury in their 0-0 draw against Manchester City, showing just how important he is to the team.
Despite only being 27, Stephens is still Southampton’s oldest current senior centre-back, meaning that the club could well be looking to find a replacement in the next few years.
With this in mind, the club could already have their ideal next version of Stephens with 19-year-old centre-back Dynel Simeu, someone who could save millions in transfer fees on a potential successor.
Despite only joining the club back in July from fellow Premier League club Chelsea, the teenage defender, who is currently valued at £900k according to Transfermarkt, has appeared in all but one of the Southampton B team games so far this season, playing the full 90 minutes in all of them, showing just how important he is for them.
In addition to this, Simeu, who has previously been described as “one to watch” by journalist Neil Moxley during his time at Chelsea, has shown in recent weeks how much of a goalscoring threat he can be as well as a defensive unit by bagging in each of his two previous league outings.
Moving forward, if Simeu can keep playing regularly for the B team until the end of the season, then there’s every chance that he could start knocking on Hasenhuttl’s door to potentially get some first-team minutes under his belt and integrate himself among the rest of the senior players at St. Mary’s.
Looking even further down the line, Simeu definitely has what it takes to then potentially become a regular figure in the senior squad and potentially save the club plenty in extra transfer fees when they eventually need to look for a replacement for Stephens.