Southampton supporters in the Transfer Tavern are very much looking forward to the 2018/19 Premier League season following the news that Mark Hughes has penned a long-term deal to remain the club’s manager.
The 54-year-old took over at St Mary’s back in March following the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino, what with the Saints languishing in the relegation mire after a woeful campaign to date. Yet ex-Stoke City chief Hughes led the club away from danger and eventually to a 17th place finish in the Premier League, finishing three points clear of the bottom three thanks to vital wins over Bournemouth and Swansea City late on in the season.
Thus, there are many optimistic Saints fans up and down the country, several of whom are wondering who the next star to break out from the youth ranks could be, having seen the likes of Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Gareth Bale do so in the last decade or so.
And the latter’s incredible rise up the footballing pyramid to Spanish giants Real Madrid is sure to be an inspiration to many currently residing in the Southampton youth ranks, with left back Jake Vokins one that could follow a similar career trajectory.
The 18-year-old joined the club’s academy at the tender age of eight and has since made his way up through the ranks to the development squad, having turned out 24 times for the Under-23s in the last few years.
Yet he continues to produce the goods for the Under-18s as well in netting once and laying on four assists in the Under-18 Premier League last time round, helping the side to a third place finish in the South division.
And with caps at Under-17 and Under-18 level for England in recent times, Vokins is clearly on the way to achieving very big things in the game, with fellow left backs Shaw and Bale surely of huge inspiration given what they have gone on to achieve in their careers.
Yes, Bale is now one of the best attackers in world football, but it all started for him as a left back on the South Coast, and with 18-year-old Vokins possessing the sort of pace, strength, and fantastic crossing ability needed to be a quality modern-day full back, he could well follow in the 28-year-old’s footsteps.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!