Arsene Wenger says Southampton have led the way in youth development over the last 15 years and have also proved to be very adept at scouting new talent.
Despite dropping out of the top tier of English football 11 years ago, and subsequently falling as low as League One, the Saints have consistently produced high-profile academy graduates including Gareth Bale and three members of Arsenal’s current first team squad.
Speaking ahead of this evening’s EFL Cup quarter-final with the Saints, the boss reflected on the South Coast outfit’s positive contribution to English football.
“They have certainly been the most prolific producers of top talent in England in the last 15 years,” he told Arsenal.com. “They have not only produced talent, but top talents.”
“We have some examples at our club with [Theo] Walcott, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain and [Calum] Chambers, but don’t forget they’ve also produced top quality players like Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana and of course others.
“They do not only produce quality players, they scout very well as well because they scouted players like Sadio Mane.”
He added: “You see the likes of [Jose] Fonte and Cedric [Soares] are European champions now with Portugal, so Southampton have done extremely well with their scouting.”