It’s no secret that Southampton have unearthed some unbelievable talents through their youth system who have gone on to enjoy incredible careers such as Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Theo Walcott among many others.
In terms of their current senior squad, Southampton have James Ward-Prowse, Jack Stephens, Yan Valery and Nathan Tella to name but a few of their current youth players who have worked their way into the first team.
Looking ahead to the future, it seems as though the club could potentially unearth their next youth star with 17-year-old left-back Thierry Small as their next Bale.
Since joining Southampton from Everton on a three-year professional contract in August, the defender has yet to feature for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side and has instead started with the club’s B team, making three appearances.
The teenager, who has previously been praised by former Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti for his innate “quality”, has played twice as a left-back and once in a more advanced role as a left midfielder, showing his versatility at such a young age in a similar way to Bale during his time at the club.
Even though the Welshman ended up leaving Southampton for Tottenham in 2007 after making just 45 senior appearances for the Saints, we feel that Small has the potential to bide his time with the B team for the time being before hopefully breaking into Hasenhuttl’s side to show that he is capable of playing regular senior football on the south coast and demonstrating why the club chose to pursue him in the summer.
Also, with Southampton currently having Romain Perraud as the only fit player in their squad who predominantly plays at left-back, it’s entirely plausible that Small could make his senior debut at some point this season either in a cup game or in the event of an injury crisis.
Either way, even if Small doesn’t end up making his senior debut for the Saints this season, he still has plenty of time to develop and progress with the B team before he’s ready to make the big step up.