SAINTS have reportedly agreed a deal to snatch hotly-tipped 19-year-old centre-back Dynel Simeu from Chelsea. 

The Cameroon-born youngster, who has often captained the Blues’ under-23s, rejected a new proposal from the London side and will reportedly join Saints on a free transfer following his contract expiry last month.

Simeu has featured heavily with the armband in Premier League 2 and against senior League One and Two teams in the EFL trophy but despite joining on a free it is reported he will still cost a privately agreed fee.

The deal has been reported by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, who also suggested the fee is around £1.5m – a shrewd negotiation to add a talented young player.

In the 2020-21 Premier League season, eight Saints youngsters aged 20 or below were given top-flight minutes as the Austrian boss attempted to traverse an injury-stricken campaign.

Saints have produced a handful of the biggest names in world football through their academy, but output of top-level stars has slowed in recent years with the reach and muscle of mega-club's academies far outweighing that of Saints.

But for Ralph Hasenhuttl, production of talented youngsters shouldn't take a back seat and he wants to see more of the academy's starlets lining up not just for Saints but up and down the footballing pyramid.

Speaking about youth development in general at Saints Foundation's All In This Together online event last season, he said: "For us in the past it was important that we have young players who can be an alternative for the future.

"Every difficult game they were on the pitch or they get a chance to play I think helps them massively in their development. But we must see also very clear that not every academy player can become a Premier League player.

"Premier League players have something special, otherwise they would not play in the best league in the world.

"The big advantage for us is that they see there is maybe no other Premier League club around where you get so easily a chance to play in the first team. This is I think for every young player a big argument to join us."

At just 19, it's likely Simeu could spend some time blooding in the Saints B team but with his experience and quality at such a young age a first team shot may not be far out of the picture should he sign. 

Daily Echo:

Hasenhuttl admits that Saints are clearly unable to match the muscle of some of those big clubs, with clubs like Chelsea being able to have up to 33 young players out on loan at any one point for much of the last decade.

The Austrian boss has been realistic and added: "But what we try to do is select as good as possible for the top talents and then support them as soon as possible. I think this is the way we want to go and then hopefully create one or two good players in the future, much more I think we cannot expect.

"But what we have to do in the future is find also for the academy good young players. But this also costs money. Meanwhile you don't get the good players because the big teams are now looking for the very good talents, very early.

"So to get the young players for us at Southampton Football Club in our academy is not so easy anymore."