DEFENDER Jan Bednarek penned a fresh long-term contract at Saints and described it as “the next step in my development”.

The Poland international has agreed a fresh four-and-a-half year deal at St Mary’s – keeping him at the club until at least the summer of 2025.

Bednarek told the club website: “I think it’s the next step in my development. I feel like this is the right place for me at the moment, and I can really enjoy my time here.

“I still see myself as a player who can improve a lot at this place, so there was only one decision for me to sign a new contract and help Southampton to become a better club.”

Bednarek, 24, first signed for Saints from Lech Poznan in 2017.

He has started all 10 Premier League matches this season, taking his total number of appearances for the club to 85.

He follows in the footsteps of James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Shane Long, Will Smallbone, Jake Vokins and Nathan Tella, as well as manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, to sign a new deal with Saints since the summer.