Southampton aim to build on Man City’s recruitment success with raid for top academy guru
Southampton have taken a bold step to overhaul their player recruitment by approaching one of Manchester City’s leading academy figures – Joe Shields – to take charge of the first-team player trade.
Shields, 35, has played a key role in transforming City into one of the Premier League’s two most formidable youth operations, signing Jadon Sancho and Michael Olise since joining the club as scouts in chief for the South of England in 2013. He is the lead candidate for the new senior recruitment manager at Saints.
Originally at Crystal Palace, where he was assistant recruitment director for the club’s academy, Shields established a strong record at City signing boys who progressed to the first team and also generated good fees. He is the first major recruiting figure Southampton has approached since the takeover by Serbian businessman Dragan Šolak whose Sport Republic Group is considering a multi-club approach similar to City Football Group, albeit on a smaller scale. ladder.
Southampton’s overhaul is being led by Sport Republic chief executive Rasmus Ankersen, former Brentford director of football, and its first hire is to replace Martyn Glover, who left his role as head of scouting and recruitment to join Leicester City . Given the notice periods, it is unlikely that Glover’s replacement will be able to join the club this window.
Ankersen has already made major changes to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s coaching staff, with the post-season departures of Craig Fleming, Kelvin Davis and Dave Watson. The club are aware there is important work to be done on the first team itself with on-loan striker Armando Broja, who has made 32 league appearances this season, returning to parent club Chelsea.
The club are hoping to build a new squad around key players James Ward-Prowse, Kyle Walker-Peters and Tino Livramento, but there is still a long way to go.
Among the many talented schoolboys Shields have signed from City, Southampton have just signed 20-year-old Gavin Bazunu, the Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper who was on loan at Portsmouth last season. The club are also interested in signing Romeo Lavia, the 18-year-old City midfielder whom Shields signed from Anderlecht in 2020.
Others signed by Shields from City include Liam Delap, Finley Burns, Luke Mbete and Ben Knight who both made their first-team debuts under Pep Guardiola. The likes of Taylor Richards, now at Brighton, and Jayden Braaf and Jamie Brynoe-Gittens, both now at Borussia Dortmund, have all been signed from City. Generating training fees and allowances for out-of-contract players is a key part of City’s academy strategy.