Saints are not expected to offer starlet Luke Shaw a new contract until next summer – even though the 17-year-old could be the subject of intense transfer window speculation.

The club have decided that big contracts shouldn’t be handed out until a player turns 18 – that birthday marking the first occasion you can sign for up to five years.

England youth international Shaw, a revelation at left back in recent weeks, does not turn 18 until next July.

Saints are not believed to have opened talks with Shaw’s representatives regarding a new, lucrative deal for a player who due to his age will be among the lowest earners in the entire top flight.

There is expected to be interest from some of England’s biggest and wealthiest clubs in Shaw when the transfer window opens at the start of next month.

Arsenal are heavily tipped with a January move, while Chelsea have had the coveted youngster heavily scouted.

The west London club are believed to be considering a bid, having previously attempted to lure him away from St Mary’s, while Manchester City could also get involved.

Saints are keen not to sell and, crucially, any decision remains theirs. Shaw, for his part, is currently happy at St Mary’s.

But while Saints fully intend to discuss a new and improved contract with Shaw, right now they are reticent to offer an extended deal, with negotiations remaining unopened.

Shaw is understood to be earning a very modest salary, having initially signed a regular first-year pro deal that kicked in when he turned 17.

Those contracts are usually designed for players who are still finding their feet in the development sides, and maybe getting the odd cup appearance.

But Shaw, whose current deal runs until 2015, has become a Premier League regular.

Saints recently followed through on their policy not to award big contracts until a player turns 18 with midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who signed a five-year deal in November a few weeks after reaching that age.

However, the difference between Shaw and Ward-Prowse is that the former is now a first team regular and, injury and form permitting, is likely to play every match for the remainder of the campaign.

As such, to earn in a month what some of his colleagues will earn in just a matter of days means the club must work to keep him happy with other far more wealthier clubs circling and sure to be prepared to offer big wages.

Shaw has been well-known to the country’s elite clubs for a number of years, with interest first emerging in him long before he was near the Saints first team.

His performances since breaking into the side this season have only strengthened opinions that he will eventually develop into one of, if not the, best left-back in England.

With Shaw’s value only likely to rise, his suitors will be keen on doing a deal for him as soon as possible.

But when recently asked about Shaw, Adkins confirmed: “He is still under 18 and when he gets to that (age) we'll go down the same lines we’ve gone and done with James Ward-Prowse.”