Academy Manager Matt Hale says the bar has been raised again for the next generation of young players at the club following the signings of Christoph Klarer and Aaron O’Driscoll.
Southampton announced the addition of the defensive duo on professional contracts earlier today, and Hale says they are examples of the direction that the Academy is heading in terms of their profile in the game.
Although the focus will always be on bringing local talent through, Saints have extended their scouting of successful young players further afield which is evidenced by the moves to bring in Klarer and O’Driscoll from Rapid Vienna, and Manchester City, respectively.
Hale said: “We’ve brought Christoph Klarer here from Austria where he’s been captaining his country at under-16 level and at Rapid Vienna he’s been doing the same, so I’m delighted to have brought him in. it’s an example of where we’ve increased our footprint to some extent with our talent ID programme where if we source a young, talented footballer with that amount of potential, then we like to try and make that happen to complement the amount of young players that we’ve got coming through more locally and regionally to Southampton. It’s a really positive signing for us and new territory too in some respects.
“Aaron became available and we’ve known about him for some time. Again, he’s somebody who has played for his country in Ireland and captained them. He became available at Man City and he has a good background, coming from a fantastic environment there and that kind of calibre of a player who is a year older, but comes in with a good background, good grounding in the game already, and will be a good addition to our squad here, and has already shown some good potential.”
Both young players not only have potential on the pitch, but boast natural skills off it that will help them to settle into their new surroundings at Staplewood Campus.
“They both kind of have those leadership qualities that we’ve seen on the pitch but also off it what I’ve noticed around in the first few days is how respectful they are – the fine young man that we want to keep on producing, who act as a role model whether that’s on the pitch or off it around Staplewood and out in the community,” said Hale.
“The two lads we’ve signed show the sort of characteristics that we really want to breed and bed down into all of our young players and represent the football club in the right manner.
“With the first team to strengthen in the next few seasons, we’ve really got to produce the best players we can to compete at the top end of the Premier League. Playing for your country at 16 and 17 is the type of level those players need to be at if they’re going to progress and compete at the level that we need them to compete at to get into the first team.
“That’s the sort of standard of player now in this academy that we’ve got to produce and recruit, so we’re delighted to have captured Christoph and Aaron.”