SAINTS have sealed their third permanent signing of the summer transfer window with the addition of young defender Ronnie Edwards.

The 21 year old costs the club an initial fee of just £3million with Peterborough United also entitled to add-ons and a sell-on clause. 

Edwards has linked with his new teammates for the first day of pre-season at Staplewood, as the players returned for testing on Wednesday.

Haven't heard of Edwards before or want to learn more about the new signing? Here is everything you need to know about Ronnie Edwards...

Ronnie Edwards has signed a four-year deal at SaintsRonnie Edwards has signed a four-year deal at Saints (Image: Southampton FC)

Who is Ronnie Edwards? 

Ronnie Edwards is a five-foot 11-inches tall, 21 year old English centre-back, born in Harlow, Essex, on March 28, 2003.

Playing for local side Sumners, West Ham fan Edwards joined Barnet at nine and progressed through the academy, where captained the under-18s.

Edwards also played football and futsal for secondary school Passmores Academy, reaching a national futsal final in the process.

He played in midfield - and took all of the set pieces - until his late teens, previously resisting the urge to stop playing football in a difficult spell at 15.

Edwards signed for Peterborough as a centre-back in August 2020 after a successful trial and went on to make 142 appearances for the club.

Edwards was named the club's player of the season during the 2021/22 campaign, in which Peterborough were relegated from the Championship.

He has helped Posh reach the League One play-offs in successive seasons since but they have been beaten semi-finalists twice.

A natural leader, Edwards captains England under-20s and has made 23 appearances for the Young Lions at under-19 and under-20 level.

He was part of the starting side that won the Under-19 European Championships in Slovakia - without conceding a goal in the group stages.

What sort of player can we expect from Edwards?

Ronnie Edwards battles Leeds United's Patrick BamfordRonnie Edwards battles Leeds United's Patrick Bamford (Image: PA)

Edwards has displayed himself to be a confident ball-playing centre-back who has operated on either side of a defence.

He is right-footed but demonstrates constant ball manipulation with the sole of his foot to deceive opponents and open channels.

In possession, Edwards shows for the ball and likes to bait the opposition to press to retain possession with a pass or drive to advance up the pitch.

He has a mixed passing range and was in the top five per cent of centre-backs for short, medium and long pass completion rates in the 2021/22 Championship.

No player in League One made more accurate passes per 90 minutes (83.8) than Edwards did last season, doing so with a 91.6 per cent success rate.

This is something that has improved from 50.4 per 90 minutes with an 84.9 per cent success rate the previous season - evidencing his development.

Edwards also ranked number one in the league for accurate long balls per 90 minutes (6.9) with an impressive 67.5 per cent success rate.

Out of possession, Edwards accepts that he is not the tallest or quickest and therefore his strengths are around positioning and anticipation.

During the 2021/22 Championship season, Edwards was in the top 15 per cent of centre-backs for tackles per 90 minutes but bottom one per cent of headers.

He particularly excelled in one-on-one defending with a success rate of challenging and tackling dribblers among the best in the league.

Edwards could be a great fit if Saints and Russell Martin are gearing up to continue their three-at-the-back system from the play-offs.

His only career goal came last season with a header versus Carlisle - another versus Stevenage took a touch off of teammate Ricky Jade-Jones.

What has Edwards said and what has been said about him?

During negotiations with West Ham last summer, Peterborough's director of football Barry Fry said: “We've had several Hammers people watch Ronnie over several months.

"I am convinced he will be a top player and could even become the next Bobby Moore. I am not saying that to sell him because I will have no trouble doing that."

Speaking about football growing up, Edwards said: "I remember in the national cup, it was the last minute and I stuck a free-kick in the top bins.

"My teachers went nuts and everyone ran on the pitch. They were great memories. I was a midfielder all of my life until the late stages of being at Barnet.

"Then I went to Peterborough United as a centre-half. I think growing up as a midfielder has played a big part in being able to play out from the back now." 

Speaking about his height and strengths, Edwards said: "I'm probably not going to grow much more so you could say that I'm a short centre-half.

"It's been about learning how to use my body, which I'm probably not going to fully do until my mid-20s. That's one thing I think I am good at, reading the game and my positioning.

"When I need to win it I go and try to win it, and I think this season I've got massively better at that - whether it's because of me putting on a little bit in terms of size and physicality."

Peterborough's chairman Darragh MacAnthony said: "I believe under Russell Martin that he will flourish and become an England international.

"He is another player, like Ivan Toney, who many clubs in the Premier League will regret not signing due to him being with a League One club and who I have no doubt will one day move for £50 million to one of those very clubs."

Ronnie Edwards (right) celebrates with the EFL Trophy at WembleyRonnie Edwards (right) celebrates with the EFL Trophy at Wembley (Image: PA)

Why have Saints signed Edwards?

Saints see Edwards as a long-term signing with the potential to become a starting Premier League centre-back.

All indications in club interviews following his signing suggest he will immediately join and offer competition to Martin's first-team squad.

The Daily Echo reported Southampton's early interest in Edwards more than two years ago and he is a long-term target of the club.

Edwards entered the last 12 months of his deal at Peterborough and was always going to move on to the next step in his career.

This meant Saints could get him for just £3million up front - with the rest presumably locked away behind performance-based clauses.

Martin and Southampton owner Dragan Solak have both spoken about their understanding of the experience needed in the Premier League.

However, the principle philosophy remains developing young players and - if necessary - taking advantage of huge cash offers from 'bigger' clubs.

Saints are light in centre-back should Martin choose to persist with a three-at-the-back system but will have addressed that with Edwards and Nathan Wood.

Jan Bednarek is in the last 12 months of his Saints contract - as is Jack Stephens - and it could be clever succession planning by the club.

Armel Bella-Kotchap - who spent last season on loan at PSV - also faces an uncertain future with media reports elsewhere of his likelihood to leave.

Ultimately, it is a deal too good to turn down for a future England international highly-rated by many within the game. 

Martin said: "He’s so excited about the opportunity to play in the Premier League and we can’t wait to get to work with him.”