Amid heavy interest from Spus and Aston Villa, Southampton fans were issued the positive news on Thursday that club captain James Ward-Prowse has signed a new five-year deal.

The long-term contract will undoubtedly ward off suitors form the talismanic midfielder and ensures that the Saints academy product will continue to remain in the beating heart of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s midfield for some time.

That prompted popular Saints fan and Fantasy Premier League expert Lucy Highnett (@lucyhighnett) to take a jab at Villa fans with the club’s interest in Ward-Prowse surely quashed as a result of the new deal.

Taking to Twitter, Highnett wrote:

“Gosh, that Villa shirt looks very red and white.”

Highnett accompanied her Tweet with a smiling halo emoji in reference to the Saints, asserting the secured status of the Saints’ star man in the process.

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Having already sold key players within the final year of their contract in Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard, Southampton will not have wanted a mass exodus of key players from their squad.

Southampton’s decision to ward off suitors for Ward-Prowse, whilst a seemingly obvious point, does show an acute awareness of the need to preserve a long-term recruitment and retention strategy.

Southampton have already replaced Ings with two strikers in Adam Armstrong – who scored on his Saints debut – and young loanee Armando Broja from Chelsea.

Equally, Ryan Bertrand who – like Vestergaard – joined fellow Premier League side Leicester, has also been replaced with French left-back Romain Perraud.

Losing key players and replacing them with untested talent in the Premier League always presents an element of risk, but the Saints have been anything but unaware in terms of their approach to recruiting and selling players in this window.

Will Ward-Prowse remain a one-club man?