DONE DEAL: Southampton officially announce Jack Stephens’ summer exit

DONE DEAL: Southampton officially announce Jack Stephens’ summer exit

DONE DEAL: Southampton officially announce Jack Stephens’ summer exit

The centre-back has agreed a fresh deal at St Mary’s that runs until 2025, putting pen to paper shortly before the start of the Championship campaign.

It follows a season in which Stephens was loaned to Bournemouth, where he helped the club secure Premier League survival while simultaneously being powerless as he watched his parent side drop into the second tier.

But he has returned to Saints invigorated and determined to help bring the team, now under the guidance of Russell Martin, back to the top-flight.

Stephens on signing new Saints deal

“Over the summer, there was a lot of uncertainty over what was going on,” said Stephens. “I think I was probably in a similar boat to a lot of the players, but I had some good conversations with the manager and he made it clear that he wanted me to stay and I’ve loved working with him these first few weeks.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him because of how he’s treated me first and foremost. The conversations we’ve had, obviously coming back from loan last year, and the football that we’ve played and the training he puts on is very enjoyable, so it was a no-brainer for me and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“Going on loan last year, to start with it was tough for me to take in, obviously being at the club for so long and having to move on and thinking possibly that could be it. But I just kept my head down and gave 100 per cent last year, really enjoyed myself and have come back this year, attacked it again and giving it 100 per cent like I always do and, like I say, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice to be back, nice to see some familiar faces and it’s just a great place to be and I like it here.

“I actually think the loan spell last year helped me out after the initial disappointment of realising I wasn’t going to be involved as much here. Once I got over that, I think it was a really positive season for me.

“I felt like I learnt a lot and I’m very grateful to Bournemouth for giving me that opportunity to find my form again and I felt like I improved as a player and I feel like I’ve come back a better player, so hopefully I can help the club get back to the Premier League to start with, but ultimately we want to stay there and push on and get back to where we were as a football club a few years ago.”

It’s a really good atmosphere around the place, the squad is obviously very talented and I think we can have a very good season.

Stephens is clear, however, that Saints will have to very much earn that right themselves.

“First of all, it’s such a tough division to get out of,” he said of the Championship. “I don’t think anyone at this club thinks we’re just going to waltz through the league and pick off everyone in front of us.

“It’s going to be very difficult, there’s going to be hopefully some good moments, but there will be some tough moments and some sticky moments, and when they do come it’s about how we stick together as a group and as a football club and I think we’re set up now with the manager and the staff we’ve got here.

“It’s a really good atmosphere around the place, the squad is obviously very talented and I think we can have a very good season, but it’s going to be a really tough one.”

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