Southampton make first signing of Pellegrino era

Jan Bednarek has completed his transfer to Southampton, and in doing so he becomes the first signing of the Mauricio Pellegrino era.

Pellegrino was appointed as Saints manager last week, following the dismissal of Claude Puel earlier this week. The Argentine coach was given assurances he would be able to retain the services of key players such as Virgil van Dijk and Cedric Soares, and that he would also be given cash to spend on improving this squad as they look to push on from last season’s eighth place finish.

And Pellegrino has now made the first signing of a new era at St Mary’s, by taking Bednarek from Lech Poznan on a five-year contract. The Polish defender has been involved in the Under-21 European Championships this summer so won’t link up with his new team-mates until later this month, but the 21-year-old is already looking forward to his new challenge.

“I am so happy that I could join a club like Southampton,” he said. “This is the moment I have worked for that makes my dreams come true. It only gives me motivation to work hard, to show my skills and to help Southampton to get better and better. I think it’s a good step for me, because I have heard Southampton is such a good club for young players, so I can improve here.”

Aside from a loan spell at Gornik Leczna during the 2015-16 season, Bednarek has spent his career thus far at Lech. The 6ft 2in central defender had made 31 league appearances for the club, scoring one goal, and he has also collected honours for the Poland national side at all levels from Under-16 to the Under-21 side, and he will now look to progress to become a full international.

It looks as though Jay Rodriguez may not be at the club to welcome Bednarek later this month. The 27-year-old forward, who has one cap for England, has endured a difficult time since suffering a knee injury in April 2014, but could kick-start his career at West Bromwich Albion who are believed to be closing in on a £12million deal for the former Burnley star.

Meanwhile, Jack Stephens has signed a new contract to keep him at Southampton until 2022. The England Under-21 international has been at St Mary’s for the past six years and last season was his breakthrough campaign, making 17 appearances in the Premier League and stepping up to fill the void in the heart of the back four when van Dijk was ruled out with injury.

“I am absolutely delighted to extend my stay,” the 23-year-old former Plymouth Argyle defender told the official club website. “It feels like home to me. I have really enjoyed my time here and am now looking forward to the next five years. It’s a massive platform for me now because it just shows how much faith the club have put in me.”

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