Southampton have announced that club captain James Ward-Prowse has been voted as the Fans’ Player of the Year for the 2020/21 season.
Having the seen how the 26-year-old has evolved into a true leader and taken his game to another level under Ralph Hasenhuttl’s management, this was largely an easy choice for supporters. Via southamptonfc.com, he received close to 50% of the vote share.
Including Tuesday night’s game against Leeds, the England international has played a part in the last 108 Saints games in all competitions and will arguably be the key player in the team going into next season. In 2020/21, he has scored nine goals and provided seven assists for teammates.
Having looked well out of favour at times during his early Saints career, he is now a dominant midfield player in all departments and typifies the goal of the Saints academy system in producing high-quality players for the first-team.
Southampton have to build things around their main man
A lot has been made about the futures of Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard, and yes Saints would miss them and struggle to replace them if they leave at some point.
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However, the heart of the team would be ripped out if Ward-Prowse was taken away. Supporters are proud to call him one of their own and academy players playing at senior level is what Saints aim for each year.
Taking his set-pieces away would reduce the chances and goals significantly, and his partnership with Oriol Romeu in the centre of the pitch will be a staple of the next seasons under Hasenhuttl.
As one of the best performing English midfielders in the top-flight, it would be strange not to see some interest in the Saints captain this summer. The club have to keep him though and build a team with a mix of experience and youth around him in his prime years.
Positive quotes on Ings’ future from Hasenhuttl and club CEO Martin Semmens have come in recent weeks and keeping the key players will ensure a strong charge next campaign.
321 appearances for Saints so far have yielded 33 goals and 40 assists so far for Ward-Prowse and fans will be hoping for many more in the future.