McQueen, left-backs and loan deals – Southampton and their silent signing of contracts


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Southampton Football Club have announced their 2021 retained list.

Ryan Bertrand heads an eleven-man list of players who will be released upon the expiration of their contract, on June 30.

The full list is as follows:

  • Ryan Bertrand
  • Jake Hesketh
  • Josh Sims
  • David Agbontohoma
  • Lucas Defise
  • Pascal Kpohomouh
  • Kingsley Latham
  • Kameron Ledwidge
  • James Morris
  • Thomas O’Connor
  • Tommy Scott

While the likes of Sims and Hesketh’s departures were disappointing but nonetheless expected, given the protracted nature of their progress at the club, a further two players who had been expected to leave, haven’t.


In April, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl told Prost International it would be a miracle” if Sam McQueen ever played football again, having missed over two years struggling to recover from an infected ACL knee injury and a multitude of further setbacks.

It had been believed McQueen’s contract was due to expire on June 30, along with the other eleven players on the club’s retained/released list. However, given the injury ravaged fortune McQueen has suffered, his situation is understood to be being treated differently by Southampton.

Despite the immediacy of his contract expiration, McQueen will continue to be able to use the facilities on offer at Staplewood, in a bid to aid his recovery. Very little has changed in the relationship between the player and the club since April, with Southampton understandably keen to preach caution considering McQueen’s ongoing ordeal.

An announcement in regards to his playing career on the south coast is expected soon, but as stated, the club will ensure any decision is made and treated carefully.

Regardless of McQueen’s future, Southampton will continue to press ahead with plans for adding at least one left-back this summer but are not likely to sign one before the European Championships get underway. As reported by multiple outlets, Junior Firpo is one of the names on a finalised shortlist. Southampton were close to agreeing a deal for the Barcelona left-back in January, before the presidential elections at the Catalan club scuppered the move.

Goalkeeper Harry Lewis’ future was also anticipated to be up in the air, with official accounts also showing his deal to expire at the end of the June. Prost International, however, understands Lewis signed an extension to his current contract in January, but was not formally announced by the club at the time.

Lewis is keen to agree a season-long loan out of the club this summer, with the 23-year-old determined to play first team football on a regular basis. Lewis has featured just three times since joining Southampton in 2015 and aside from a season on loan to Dundee United, has been largely consigned to life as a third-choice goalkeeper.

The decision to extend Lewis’ contract comes after a frustrating year for the former Shrewsbury player. Both Lewis and Southampton had previously been planning to let him go out on loan for the duration of the 2020/21 campaign, but COVID-19 bubbles and the precarious nature of self-isolation forced Southampton to reconsider. In the end, they decided Lewis would stay and provide ample back-up to Fraser Forster and Alex McCarthy, in case if either or both were ruled out due to injury or infection from the virus.

Though the silent nature of Harry Lewis’ contract extension is unusual, particularly in this era of clubs embracing the fanfare of social-media and all the furore most announcements seem to yield, Southampton do have a track record for contracts not being made public.

In June 2020, The Athletic reported Jack Stephens signed a new four-year-deal to stay at St Mary’s. At the time of writing, the deal is still yet to be confirmed by the club, despite various sources corroborating that the agreement is signed.

It is believed Southampton’s lack of fanfare around certain deals is to do with the amount of power they cede, especially in the transfer market. Announcing a player’s contract, who the club may be open to letting go on loan or permanently, may give prospective buyers false impressions, subsequently putting them off from making a bid or even enquiring.

Therefore, this preferred method ensures players are still available for transfer – providing the right offer comes along – and simultaneously certifies a player’s value does not diminish due to the length of their contract.


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About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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