In the past five years, Southampton FC have been key in producing young talented midfielders through their youth system. The most high-profile of these is Theo Walcott who was sixteen years and forty-three days old when making his Southampton first team debut. Walcott was snapped up by Arsenal for an initial five million pounds with the fee to rise to twelve million. This clearly highlights his value to a massive club. The other former Southampton teen, Gareth Bale who also rose through the Saints youth system, showed his prowess on the European stage, scoring a second half hat-trick against the European champions Inter Milan.
Now, the next rising star in Southampton football club is the seventeen year old Alex Oxlade-Chambelain. The teen scored his first senior goal this saturday versus Oldham in a League 1 clash, impressing fans and pundits alike, with The Sun calling Chamberlain “Theo Mark II” and being said to have “stardust in his feet” in this Monday’s edition. These three cases clearly highlight the success of the Southampton youth system.
Some may argue that Arsenal produce equally successful young midfielders, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere breaking into their first team. However, with Arsenal attempting to challenge for the Premier League title, it is clear they have more focus on club success rather than giving young British midfielders the chance to shine. This is evident as Arsenal rarely start with more than one or two British players in their starting line up.
Only time can tell as to how these youngsters will fare at international level, but it is clear to see that Southampton has one of the key youth systems for British Midfielders.