In recent years, Southampton has produced many English internationals and most of those players have come through their academy. They also have an excellent scouting network which enables them to buy young players with a huge potential at a reasonable price.
Their business model is very clear. They either give players from their academy a pathway into the first team or promising youngsters they’ve signed from elsewhere a chance to impress at the top level of English football. They then go on to sell them for a huge profit years later.
For example, since the summer of 2014, they’ve sold six players worth £172.5 million to Liverpool alone! The profit they made on these players is massive.
Even if you take into consideration only the players Southampton have sold in recent years and are currently active, then you would have an amazing starting XI at your disposal. So take a look at how the Southampton team would have shaped up if they didn’t sell their best players over the years.
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc (Bournemouth)
This is the only area of the pitch where we didn’t have to choose between more than one player. The only active goalkeeper sold by Southampton in recent years is Bournemouth’s Artur Boruc.
The Pole was at Southampton between 2012 and 2015 during which he made 50 appearances.
Although he played a key role for the club in its first two seasons after returning to the Premier League, he was loaned to Bournemouth for the 2014/15 season and joined the Cherries the following season on a free transfer.
The 38-year-old is still at Bournemouth as #2 to Asmir Begovic.
Full-backs: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) and Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Nathaniel Clyne joined Southampton in 2012 after they gained promotion to the Premier League and played 104 games in their colours for three seasons before joining Liverpool.
Clyne made a name as a reliable right-back with Southampton and was a regular in his three seasons there. During his stint with the Saints, he also made his debut for England in 2014.
The 27-year-old has been with Liverpool for three seasons and has played 98 games for the Merseyside outfit so far.
Shaw came through the Southampton academy and made his debut for the first team in 2012 aged 16.
During the 2012/13 season, he became a first-team regular and continued to be so until he left the club in 2014 to join Manchester United. He played 67 games for Southampton before he turned 19.
At Manchester United, Shaw hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed at Southampton. He hasn’t played more than 16 league games in a season after four years at the club and has racked up only 66 appearances till date.
Center-backs: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) and Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren are without question Liverpool’s current preferred first-choice centre-back pairing. In fact, they played together in most of Liverpool Champions League knockout stage fixtures in the 2017/18 season, including the final.
Lovren joined Liverpool in 2014 after only one season with Southampton. The Saints signed him for £8.5 million and sold him for £20 million to Liverpool. Interestingly, during his only season with the Saints, he scored the only goal in an away fixture against Liverpool.
At Liverpool, Lovren is still a subject of a lot of debate owing to his often error-prone performances. However, on his day, he has shown that he is capable of stopping any player he is up against. A testament to this is the fact that he played a key role in Croatia’s run to the FIFA World Cup final in 2018.
Virgil van Dijk spent two and a half seasons at Southampton and was even named the club captain in 2016/17. Like Lovren, he too fell out of the good book of Southampton fans for pushing a move to Liverpool.
Van Dijk’s transfer to Liverpool was a subject of intense discussion for several months and he eventually signed for the Reds in January 2018. His transfer to Liverpool made him the world’s most expensive defender and that’s a record he still holds.
He was signed by Southampton for £13 million and sold to Liverpool for £75 million. However, 10% of that fee goes to his former club Celtic.
Honourable mentions: Jose Fonte (Lille) and Calum Chambers (Arsenal)
Note: Toby Alderweireld has not been included in this list because he only played for Southampton on loan.
Midfielders: Victor Wanyama (Spurs), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Victor Wanyama is another player who joined Southampton from Celtic before moving elsewhere. The Kenyan is the only player Mauricio Pochettino signed from his former club after he took over as manager of Spurs.
Wanyama played 97 games across three seasons for Southampton before joining Spurs in 2016. He has played 71 games and scored six goals for the North London club in two seasons.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed that if you played for Southampton, you will end up at Liverpool in the end.
Chamberlain graduated from the Southampton academy and played 43 games for the club at League One level before making a huge step up to the Premier League in 2011 with Arsenal.
He impressed in his debut season and made the England squad for Euro 2012. Chamberlain spent six seasons with Arsenal, played 198 games and scored 20 goals before joining Liverpool in 2017.
Adam Lallana also came through the Southampton academy. He played 265 games for Southampton and scored 60 goals across eight seasons for the club. During this period, he played for the club in the Premier League, Championship and League One.
Lallana was club captain when he left Southampton to join Liverpool in 2014 for £25 million. He has played 138 games for Liverpool since and scored 21 goals.
Honourable mentions: Morgan Schneiderlin (Everton) and Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng)
Gareth Bale is arguably the best player to have come through the Southampton academy. However, when Bale left Southampton to join Spurs in 2007, he was still a left-back.
The Welshman made his successful transition from a left-back to a winger a few years later at Spurs and hasn’t looked back since. He scored 55 goals in 203 games for the North London club of which he scored 26 in his last season in 44 games.
He won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 2010/11 and 2012/13 before making a then world record transfer to Real Madrid in 2013.
At Real Madrid, Bale has scored 88 goals in 189 games. In addition, he has won 11 trophies including four Champions League titles. Bale scored the winning goal in the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals.
Despite his injury problems, he’s still considered one of the best players in the game.
Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane joined Southampton in the summer of 2014 as a replacement for the likes of Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.
Both players were at Southampton for only two seasons but in that short time, they formed a brilliant partnership which helped them finish strongly in the league. Pelle scored 30 goals in 81 games while Mane racked up 25 goals in 75 games in those two seasons.
Mane left Southampton to join Liverpool in a then record fee for an African player. He hit the ground running at Liverpool and after two seasons, he has scored 33 goals in 73 games.
As for Pelle, he became an Italian international while at Southampton and scored 9 times in 20 games for the Azzurri. However, he left European soil to continue his career in China with Shandong Luneng.
Honourable mentions: Theo Walcott (Everton) and Jay Rodriguez (West Brom)
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino (Spurs)
Pochettino took over as Southampton manager in January 2013 when they were fighting relegation. He helped them avoid the drop impressively with 3-1 wins over Manchester City and Liverpool as well as a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
The following season, he helped the club finish 8th in the league which was their best finish in the top tier since 2002/03.
Several players shone under the Argentine in the 2013/14 season and as a result, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers left the club the next summer to join Premier League giants.
Pochettino also moved on in the same summer. He was appointed head coach of Spurs, a position he still holds. He has brought consistency to Spurs in his four years at the club and also helped raise the game of several players including Harry Kane.
Honourable mentions: Ronald Koeman (Netherlands) and Claude Puel (Leicester City)
Do you think any other player who was sold by Southampton deserve a place here? Leave your thoughts in the comments belo