Southampton academy graduate Jake Hesketh has made a surprising statement about Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The 25-year-old will be looking for a new club when his current contract ends at the end of June but has suggested that current Saints boss Hasenhuttl did not know who he was when the two met recently.
Speaking in a fascinating exclusive interview with the Athletic’s Dan Sheldon – where he discussed breaking through as a Saints youngster, scoring against Portsmouth and what the future might hold – he said:
"“I had one conversation (with Hasenhuttl) when I came back from loan, and he didn’t know who I was. I went in to find out what I’d be doing for the upcoming season and to see if I would get an opportunity to impress in pre-season.”"
It could have been different for Hesketh at Southampton
When we look back at how Hesketh broke through with Saints back in 2014, it is fair to say that it could have been a lot different for him.
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He is surely set to make a decent career in the Football League but he could have had a bigger chance at Premier League level had injury problems not halted his progress.
It was Ronald Koeman who gambled by giving him his first two top-flight appearances. 20 minutes as a substitute against Manchester United was followed by his first start away at Burnley, but he was forced off in the first-half with a knee injury.
It then took him around a month to recover from this before he was involved in Under-23s games again but he has not appeared in the Premier League again since.
Although, as he admits himself in the referenced interview, he may not be good enough now to play a part for Saints, it is still surprising to hear that Ralph Hasenhuttl did not know who he was.
Designated members of staff will manage the progress of players out on loan and this is perhaps where Hesketh has got lost in Hasenhuttl’s plans, but that does not stop it being demoralising for a player who has always been battling to prove himself.
It was confirmed that Hesketh will be one of 11 players released by Saints at the end of this month and Saints and their fans will wish him all the best for the future.