Ralph Hasenhuttl believes Saints captain James Ward-Prowse is perfect role model

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is pleased that James Ward-Prowse’s new contract will end any further transfer discussion as he told his captain to become a club “legend”.

Ward-Prowse was heavily linked with a move away from St Mary’s over the summer, with Aston Villa among those reported to be showing an interest in the England midfielder.

While the likes of Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard have moved on, to Villa and Leicester respectively, Southampton announced Ward-Prowse had signed a fresh five-year deal on Thursday.

The 26-year-old came through the ranks with Saints and has made over 300 appearances for the club, including being an ever-present in the past two Premier League campaigns.

Hasenhuttl, whose side host Manchester United on Sunday, was delighted to get the deal done.

“The good thing is that we finally can stop any discussion we had about transfers for him or whatever,” he said.

“We can definitely stop this discussion and I am happy that this is sorted out.

“We speak very often about a role model for this club and if you want to find one, Prowsey is the one.

“He is, I think, something of a player that everyone can identity with and we are very happy to have him here.”

Hasenhuttl also praised Ward-Prowse for his approach during the speculation surrounding his future and insisted he had no doubts he would stay put.

“I have never had the thought he could leave us to be honest,” he said.

“We are not the only club that loses a player when they have only one year left because when players are not willing to sign a new contract it is the only alternative you have, that doesn’t mean that you have to let them go for nothing.

“As we said, we are a club that develops players and we will always be a club that also sells players at some point and we always will be in the future.

“But this also happens to the very big clubs so it is not about that we are at the other end of this level.

“This is OK, sometimes it is hard for the fans to see players leave. For me also, I would like to have Danny here for the next five years.

“But sometimes players decide to make the next step and not to decide to be a legend for the club and when you have to accept that as a manager then you must keep on going.

James Ward-Prowse has eight senior England caps to date.
James Ward-Prowse has eight senior England caps to date (Carl Recine/PA)

Asked if Ward-Prowse’s continued commitment could lead to him becoming a “legend” of the club, Hasenhuttl added: “Yes, he has decided to go this way.

“That doesn’t mean that he stays here forever but when you are that long at a club you get a special position in the club and in the heart of the fans.

“I think this is sometimes what players don’t see, you can earn a lot of money anywhere but you have seldom chance to become a legend I think.

“When you have this chance, it is too often not important enough for the players any more, maybe this was a little bit different in the past.”

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