Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse is reportedly on the verge of committing his long-term future to the club.
According to a report from the Telegraph’s Mike McGrath, the 25-year-old has agreed to a new five-year contract at St Mary’s and is set to become one of the highest earners at the club.
After Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl signed a new four-year deal recently, this is the next big statement of intent – especially when McGrath’s report also states that Ward-Prowse’s deal staves off interest from other clubs.
The England international has become a key part of what is being built on the South Coast.
He has been reborn as a footballer since Hasenhuttl’s arrival and played every minute of every Premier League game for Saints in 2019/20.
This made him just one of seven players in the whole league who were ever presents for their respective clubs, racking up 3,420 minutes on the pitch in all. His 44 appearances in all in 2019/20 also took him to 278 games in red and white.
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Ward-Prowse’s role in the current Saints setup sees him deployed as a central-midfielder and he has had to develop each component of his game to do so.
Now he can be seen making tackles and interceptions whilst also providing key passes, dictating play and being a goal threat in attack.
Under previous managers, it really was unclear what player he was going to become or even if he was ever going to reach his full potential as a starter for Saints.
He was used as a defensive-midfielder and an attacking one but did not showcase an ability to play these consistently into the future.
However, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s call for him to add a nasty element to his game- the tackles that we now see each week – has seen his attributes become much more rounded.
It cannot be understated how important having an academy graduate is to both the club and the fans, and his influence on his teammates will also come from a real knowledge of all things Saints.
Things really look on the up at St Mary’s and this is another big step in the right direction.