Southampton have been handed a massive boost with club captain James Ward-Prowse putting pen to paper on a new five-year contract at St Marys.
The midfielder has emerged as one of the club’s main stars in the past couple of years, blossoming under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Austrian’s arrival transformed the midfielder from an unimposing and bit part player into a nailed on starter and England international.
Upon the conclusion of last season he broke a Premier League record, becoming the first midfielder in the history of the competition to play every minute of consecutive campaigns.
And naturally his progression in the Saints side attracted attention from those higher up the footballing food chain.
Aston Villa were very keen on taking him to the Midlands. Dean Smith’s side have demonstrated significant ambition in this summer’s transfer window.
They went in with a bid of £25m for the 26-year-old. But this was never going to tempt their Premier League rivals into selling.
Having tied down their skipper to a contract extension last summer to keep him at the club until 2025, the Saints described this offer as ‘derisory’.
It then emerged they would not be open to selling this summer regardless of the fee involved.
Now the man himself has ended any remaining hope Villa had by agreeing new terms on the south coast.
Speaking to the Southampton club website, Ward-Prowse said: “I’m over the moon. I think I’m probably the happiest man in the world right now. To come to this decision, I think has been massive and is a big step forward.
“To commit my future again to this football club is something I’m incredibly proud of and a new chapter begins now for me.
“It’s probably the first time in my career that I’ve had that link away and that talk. But I think I was very keen to sit down and talk to the club and it’s worked both ways.
“They’ve sat down and told me their admiration for me and the way they want me to lead the team – and this club has done so much for me.
“I can’t put into the words the opportunities and chances that they’ve given me. I’m incredibly grateful for the club for doing that.
“I’m not finished yet here, I still have a lot left to give to this football club. I want to be there leading this team and ensuring I can give everything back and repay that faith the club have shown in me since I was eight-years-old.”
Ward-Prowse extends 18-year association
The new contract means the midfielder will continue his near two decade association with the Saints.
He joined the club’s academy 18 years ago when he was aged eight and rose through the ranks until 2011.
It was then he made his first team debut in a League Cup tie against Crystal Palace.
Since then, the eight-cap England man has made 323 appearances and scored 33 goals.
Last season was his best statistically as he bagged eight times and registered the same amount of assists.