Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has ruled out selling captain James Ward-Prowse, amid ongoing interest from Aston Villa and Tottenham.
The 26-year-old has been a shining light down on the south coast over recent years, and his form convinced Gareth Southgate to call him up to his preliminary England squad for Euro 2020.
Ward-Prowse would ultimately be cut from the Three Lions’ final 26-man party, but his consistency for Southampton has drawn admirers from around the Premier League.
The dead-ball specialist hasn’t missed a league game for the past two seasons and notched eight goals for the Saints during 2020/21, often playing a leading role alongside Danny Ings – who has now left St. Mary’s to join Aston Villa.
The Telegraph noted on Wednesday that Tottenham and Villa were preparing bids ahead of this weekend’s Premier League opening fixtures, but Southampton boss Hasenhuttl – speaking in his first press conference of the season – has ruled out allowing his captain to follow Ings through the exit door.
“It is normal I think with Prowsey [being linked with a move away] a guy who everybody wants to have, but I don’t see the scenario for him not to be with us for the next years,” Hasenhuttl said.
“He knows that he’s the captain here and he knows how important he is for our club. He feels good here and we feel good with him, he has a four-year contract here so the situation with him is a different one.”
Hasenhuttl’s comments highlight why Southampton decided to cash in on Ings, with the former Liverpool striker having just a year left on his deal before joining Villa. Ultimately, the club couldn’t turn down the offer made by Dean Smith’s side, knowing that the 29-year-old would not sign an extension and could leave for free next summer.
As for Ward-Prowse, he’s been facing a race against time to be fit for Southampton’s opening game of the Premier League season against Everton, and Hasenhuttl intimated that it’s a race he expects him to win.
“He’s going to be ok,” Hasenhuttl remarked. “He trained the whole week and I’m looking forward to having him back on Saturday.”