SAINTS youngster Yoann Folly has emerged as a star of the Toulon Tournament.

The 19-year-old midfielder has been impressive as the French under-23 side won the event by beating Sweden in the final yesterday.

Folly, who played the last nine Premiership matches of last season in the 'holding' midfielder role, played in alternative games.

Saints European scout Terry Cooper was watching the tournament all week and saw most of the French matches.

"The French have been good to Yoann," he said. "He could have done with a rest really, but the French have only played him in half the games.

"I saw him play against Columbia earlier this week and he was the best player on the pitch.

"The French also have Mathieu Flamini in their squad, who played for Marseille in the UEFA Cup final (against Valencia) and Folly is a much better player."

Flamini is reportedly interesting Everton, but Marseille coach Jose Angio is a firm believer in the player's defensive midfield talents and his offered him a new contract.

Cooper continued: "I wouldn't say I was surprised at how Yoann came through last season - it's all about identifying the players you think could do well and giving them a chance.

"I'm sure, though, he's saved Paul Sturrock a lot of money.

"I also have high hopes that Leandre Griffit will continue to progress - he just needs a run of games like Yoann did."

Folly is by no means the only Premiership player in the French Under-23 squad.

There is also Arsenal defender Gael Clichy and his Highbury strike colleague Jeremie Aliadiere and Liverpool forwards Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama Pongolle.

In addition to playing in the Toulon event while his St Mary's colleagues are enjoying their holidays, Folly has also taken exams since the Premiership season ended.

Saints academy director Huw Jennings said: "Yoann's family were keen for him to continue his education, so he's had to study for his exams in the last few weeks."