MATT Crocker will become Saints' new director of football operations early next year.

Here is the club's statement in full:

Southampton Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of the Football Association’s Matt Crocker as its new Director of Football Operations 

Crocker, who will begin work at Saints in early 2020, has been an influential figure in the development of the national blueprint that has led to a period of sustained success for all England age groups, both men’s and women’s, across a number of years.

Before moving to The FA in 2013, Crocker worked for seven years at Southampton overseeing the club’s academy and pathway into the First Team, with the emergence of the likes of Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

He also oversaw the Academy as it became one of the first to achieve the prestigious Category One status in recognition of the quality of its facilities and the number of players who have progressed to first-team level.

Crocker will now return to the club to oversee the development of every aspect of its football operations, and develop every department that supports all of the club's teams. 

Chief Executive Officer Martin Semmens said: “The Southampton Way is at the very core of everything we do here at the club, with a strong focus on our player pathway into the First Team. For our club to be successful going into the next decade, within an increasingly competitive Premier League, we must seek to strengthen our pathway and further develop every detail of our football operation. 

“Matt was the outstanding candidate in Europe for this role, head and shoulders above anyone else, as he brings deep experience and knowledge to the club, but also a history with The Southampton Way. 

“As Head of Development Teams at The FA, Matt was responsible for elite player and coach pathways through all teams, and was one of the key architects of the England DNA project. This created a framework and culture that has led to the success we see today through all age groups with the national team. This experience and knowledge will help our club develop further our excellent track record in player and coach development, and give us the best opportunity to be successful now and in the future. 

“We are convinced this appointment will lead to greater success on the pitch in the future, and will help bring back the true ‘Southampton Way’ with a fresh and innovative leader in charge of our football operations.”