Southampton exodus: A sorry sight for English football

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It has been a depressing transfer window thus far for all of the supporters of Southampton FC.

A team that with a little investment would have been challenging for a Europa place, will now be hoping to finish outside the bottom three.

This sorry situation started midway through last season when Nicola Cortese, Chairman and widely regarded as the mastermind behind Southampton's rise back into the Premier League, left the club. This threw Mauricio Pochettino's future up into the air, and as you all know, he left for Spurs at the end of the season.

Lallana and Lambert

Unsurprisingly, as soon as the season ended, rumours of a Saints exodus were rife within the media, with Saints fans' favourites Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana the first to pack their bags; both heading for Liverpool. Despite the reactions from some fans' on social media, neither player can be begrudged for wanting to move to Anfield.

For Lambert, the opportunity of playing for the club he had supported all of his life was just too big a chance to turn down, and, at 32, after five years at Southampton helping them back into the Premier League, owed the club nothing and deserved the opportunity. As for Lallana, after 14 years at the club, the lure of Champions League football was too much to turn down.

As with Lambert, Lallana has played a massive, massive role in helping Southampton return to England's top division.

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Issues with the exodus

Now, the problem I have with the exodus at Southampton is the departure of the young, academy graduates, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers. I appreciate that Manchester United and Arsenal are two of the biggest clubs in the country, but just because they come in for you, does not mean moving is the right thing to do - especially in Chambers case.

At 19-years-old, Chambers' number one motive has to be game-time, a commodity which would have been almost guaranteed at Southampton. Instead, he will spend his first season at Arsenal fighting it out with fellow English right-back Carl Jenkinson as Matthieu Debuchy's number two. Game-time has to take precedent over money for the first few years of a players career in order to reach their maximum potential.

A good example would be that of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, another Southampton academy graduate. I am not for one minute saying The Ox is not a good player, he's a great player, and will go on to be a brilliant player for club and country, but just imagine how good he would be now if he had stayed at Southampton and developed a little more before making a lucrative move to a big club.

In the three years since his move to Arsenal he has played 55 times in the Premier League, and a lot of those appearances would have been from coming off the bench. Had he stayed at Southampton, one could argue that he would have made double the amount of appearances, of which most would have been starts.

Other examples

Elsewhere in Europe, they know that game-time is the most important tool in developing a player. Lets take Julian Draxler for example. Plays week in, week out for Schalke, and as Germany's next big talent, I wonder how many chances he has had to move to a "bigger club" and quadruple his current wages?

A lot of chances, I would imagine. Lets be honest, he will probably end up at Bayern Munich at some point, but because the German's are sensible, and know the right way to develop a player, this won't happen until he is 22/23, with a few seasons of playing every-week in the Bundesliga behind him. If Julian Draxler was English and had come through a smaller English clubs academy, he would have moved to an Arsenal or a Manchester City at 17 and never have developed into the potential world class talent he is now.

The importance of young game-time

As for the young English players, I believe it is imperative that more football people in the game are on hand to offer them advice on the best ways to improve their careers. It seems too many young players nowadays are being tainted by the greediness of agents, hoping to make a lot of money in no-time-at-all by selling their clients to the reserves and benches of the top clubs.

Finally, I imagine you will hear may pundits commend teams like Liverpool for placing their faith and investing in young English players next season... But is stripping a club dry of the young English talent it works so hard to develop, and limiting them to half the amount of games they would have gotten if they had stayed, really a commendable practise? I think not.

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