Ryan Finnigan is getting rave reviews in the Southampton academy, and if he continues to impress, he could even prove to be the Saints’ next James Ward-Prowse.
Southampton gained a reputation for establishing young talents such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the past, whilst Ward-Prowse has come through the academy and become the captain of the first team.
However he and Jack Stephens, are really the only current examples of regular players to start their careers with Southampton’s academy before moving into the first team, with the Saints opting to aggressively target youngsters from other clubs in this summer’s transfer window.
The likes of Alexandre Jankewitz and Michael Obafemi, who were arguably two of the brightest young talents at St Mary’s, both left on permanent deals this summer, so there is arguably a shortage of homegrown academy players who are close to breaking into the first team at Southampton.
Finnigan could well prove to be an exception, with the 17-year-old seemingly set for a big future with the Saints’ first team.
The Athletic’s Dan Sheldon sang his praises on the Total Saints podcast recently, saying: “You speak to people within the club, they do generally rave about him.
“They think, of all the academy players kind of coming through at the moment, he’s the one that stands out the most.”
Ralph Hasenhuttl also spoke about Finnigan and fellow youngster Oludare Olufunwa after they appeared in a pre-season friendly against Swansea City, saying: “Very good, I must say they are getting stronger every day and when we are working together, it’s good for them to be with the first team.
“It’s good for them to learn quick and always a fantastic opportunity for the young lads to be part of the game.”
As a central midfielder who is making waves in the Southampton academy, there are clear similarities between Finnigan and Ward-Prowse.
If he can prove to be even half as good as Ward-Prowse has been at Southampton, with the England international contributing 34 goals and 42 assists in 326 appearances for the first team so far in his career, then Finnigan will surely prove to be a big hit with the St Mary’s faithful in the future.