Southampton have an excellent record of bringing players through their academy and turning them into successful players at the top level.
Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer, Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana are just a few examples, with current first-team captain James Ward-Prowse the most recent academy success.
Whilst the Saints lost the likes of Walcott, Shaw and Lallana to ‘big six’ clubs in Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, there have been other academy products who were sold to fellow mid-table outfits. One of those was Matt Targett, who came up through the ranks at St Mary’s before signing for Aston Villa in 2019.
The left-back made his senior debut for the club in the 2014/15 campaign and went on to make 63 appearances for the Saints in all competitions, scoring once and setting up six goals. He also spent time out on loan at Fulham during his time with Southampton, helping the west Londoners to get promoted out of the Championship.
Transfermarkt valued Targett at £6.30m at the time of his sale to Villa in 2019. The full-back then made 66 Premier League appearances between the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, which included playing in all 38 of the club’s top-flight matches last term.
Targett averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.86 in his debut campaign for Dean Smith’s side and that improved slightly to 6.90 throughout the next season. Last term, he averaged 3.6 tackles and interceptions per match in the Premier League and created one chance per game, showing that he can offer quality at both ends of the pitch from the full-back position.
At the time of writing, Transfermarkt value him at £15.3m just two years on from his departure from Southampton. This is a 143% increase from the time of his St Mary’s exit, highlighting how he has been able to kick on and improve under Smith at Villa Park.
This suggests that Ralph Hasenhuttl made a huge mistake by cashing in on the £34k-per-week gem when he did. The way he has been able to flourish and develop at Villa indicates that the Austrian made an error by refusing to give him more of a chance to make the left-back position his own at Southampton, as he is now valued higher than five of the club’s six full-back options.
Only Kyle Walker-Peters (£16.3m) – a right-back – is valued at a higher price than Targett among that sextet. Therefore, Hasenhuttl should not have cashed in on the 25-year-old and instead should have given him more opportunities to be the Saints’ go-to left-back in the Premier League.