Southampton have developed an enviable reputation for improving young players over the years following a number of signings and academy graduates in the Premier League going on to do great things.
The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and Dejan Lovren are just some of those who have either been signed by the club and sold on at a profit, or come up through the academy before sealing a big-money exit.
One player who could be in the middle of that journey is right-back Kyle Walker-Peters. The defender is currently in his second full season for the Saints, having initially joined on loan during the 2019/20 campaign ahead of signing permanently in the summer of 2020.
During his loan spell, Walker-Peters made ten Premier League appearances (seven starts) and averaged an impressive WhoScored rating of 6.86. He made 2.7 tackles and interceptions, whilst also completing 1.7 dribbles and 0.4 key passes, per game.
This convinced the Saints to sign him permanently from Tottenham in the summer of 2020, with Transfermarkt valuing him at £7.2m at the time.
The 24-year-old went on to start 30 of Southampton’s 38 Premier League matches in the 2020/21 campaign, averaging a WhoScored rating of 6.84. He improved defensively as he averaged 4.1 tackles and interceptions per game, showing that he was able to grow as a defender and stifle more attackers by either taking the ball off an opponent or reading a pass to intercept it and regain possession for the Saints.
Throughout the campaign, his market value soared. It went from £7.2m to £10.8m in October before shooting up to £13.5m in December and then £16.2m – where it currently sits – in May 2021. This means that his market value has risen 125% from £7.2m to £16.2m since he completed his permanent transfer to Southampton, proving that his signing has been a masterstroke by Hasenhuttl.
Upon Walker-Peters’ arrival at the club, the former RB Leipzig coach hailed him as an intelligent player and claimed that he could improve further.
The Austrian said: “He is a very good fit for our style. He is a young, intelligent player, and he is very good on the ball, with good quickness and an ability to play this intense style that we like.
“I am very pleased we have been able to bring him back as our player, as this is a position that we have been looking to improve in and Kyle does this for us. I think he can develop his game even more here too.”
Walker-Peters’ 125% increase in value shows that Hasenhuttl has pulled off a masterstroke, as his initial comments prove that he saw the potential in the defender. The Austrian has been able to help the former Spurs gem develop as a player in the past 18 months and the 24-year-old could be well on his way to earning a big-money transfer in the future, or hopefully becoming a crucial player at St Mary’s for years to come.