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Southampton could find their Broja replacement in youngster Luke Pearce

After an impressive first season in the Premier League, on-loan Southampton striker Armando Broja has been subject to an array of speculation regarding where his future lies.

The Saints are reportedly keen on making the 20-year-old’s stay on the south-coast permanent with the striker scoring nine goals in 31 appearances so far this season. However, parent club Chelsea hold the necessary power over where the Albanian will be playing his football next season.

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Should Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side fail to lure the 20-year-old to St.Mary’s for at least another season this summer, a replacement will certainly have to be made to partner Ché Adams, who has eight goals this term, with Shane Long’s contract expiring and summer signing Adam Armstrong struggling to settle in the top-flight so far with just two goals.

However, the south-coast club may not have to fork out for a new centre-forward and, instead, could unearth a hidden gem in 17-year-old prodigy Luke Pearce.

In the pipeline

Having made a serious impression for the U-18s, Pearce has been given the nod to feature for Southampton B and has certainly taken his chance.

The Irish youngster has scored seven goals in seven starts in Premier League 2 this term as well as netting eight goals and registering two assists in 13 appearances in the U18 Premier League.

The striker’s first appearance for the B-team against West Brom in November saw the 17-year-old score a debut goal and has been on fire of late, netting six times in his last six games.

Will Armando Broja be a Saints player next season?

Yes, he's loved his time at the club!

Yes, he's loved his time at the club!

No, he will move to a bigger team!

No, he will move to a bigger team!

Having signed his first professional contract last July, the Irish youngster was subject to serious praise from academy director Matt Hale, who stated: “Luke has integrated himself really well into the Southampton Way.

“Both in terms of playing and our culture since joining from Walsall twelve months ago. His work ethic is extremely high and he leads the line very well.

“This will stand him in a strong position to progress with us, as his energy and enthusiasm aligns very well to our playing philosophy.”

Southampton are famous for some of the talents that have come through their academy with James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a handful of note. Could Pearce be the next hidden gem to make the step up to the first team?

In other news: Bid £25m, now worth 4x less: Saints prevented disaster by missing out on 30-y/o dud

Article title: Southampton could find their Broja replacement in youngster Luke Pearce

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