Pen portraits by Spot51
|Gavin's roots are in Nigeria but he was born in Dublin and grew up in the south of Ireland's capital. The young keeper joined Shamrock Rovers academy but was promoted to their first team aged 16. He played 6 times, 4 in the Irish top division and kept 6 clean sheets which included saving a penalty away at Cork City.
These exploits alerted Manchester City who paid over £400K to take him to the Etihad in February 2019 where he played for their academy sides. He won his first U17 Irish caps that year and was so good he was put straight into their U21s. He never played for City's 1st team but was on the bench when they faced Real Madrid in the ECL in August 2020..
Soon after, he began his first loan spell playing for League 1 Rochdale, appearing 29 times before their season was curtailed by Covid. 2021 also saw him win the first of 10 full caps for Ireland and he was voted RTE's Young Sportsperson of the year.
Last summer he went to Pompey on loan and they loved him. Baz was their Player of the Season. Can't imagine they were overjoyed to see him come to us but City were happy to take our cash and Gavin now gets a shot at the EPL. I hope playing behind our defence at Spurs did not leave him traumatised…
|Growing up in western Poland, goalkeeper Mateus joined the academy of his local club before moving on to Zielona Góra at age 11. In 2014 he was recruited by top flight Lech Poznan but never played in their first team. During the next 4 seasons he played 21 games for the reserves and had 4 loan spells to lower league sides. He also gained 5 caps for Poland U18s and later won 3 more at U19/20.
In 2014 he was transferred to Wisla Krakow where he played 69 top flight games in 3 seasons. Last year he moved to Izmir in Turkey where he made 35 appearances for Altay in the Super Lig but was released following relegation in the summer.
|Armel's dad was a Cameroon international striker who plied his trade in Germany's lower leagues. At a tender age Armel joined the academy at Ahlen where his dad had played, then moved round various academies before winding up at Bochum in 2017.
He was given his professional contract in March 2019 and made his Bundesliga 2 debut the following month. He was soon called up by Germany, winning 5 caps at U18, another at U20 and currently has 9 U21 caps.
Over the next 2 seasons ABK played 44 times. In the cup against Bayern he marked first Gnabry, then Lewandowski out of the game bringing him to international attention. In 2021 Bochum were promoted as champions and the 6 ft 3 youngster then played 26 times in the top flight, as right centre back in a 4-3-3. Bochum finished on 39 points, comfortably safe.
He was watched by Manchester United, Spurs and several top German clubs but the chance to play in the Prem at Southampton was too great an incentive. He came here for a fee of about £10 Million and claimed the number 37 shirt he had worn in Germany. In internationals, he is required to wear number 5.
|Born in Belgium from Congolese stock, Romeo joined Anderlecht's academy at age 8. Whilst playing at an U15 international tournament (organised by Kevin de Bruyne) he was spotted by Pep Guardiola who had been invited by KDB. The City boss was impressed and arranged for Romeo to move to City in 2020.
He played a few games in midfield for the U18s but was swiftly promoted to the U23s who went on to win the Premier League 2 that season. Already capped by Belgium at U15 and U16 he won 10 caps for their U19s, scoring once. Last season he was part of City's 1st XI squad making his debut aged 17, against Wycombe in the EFL Cup last September, and was booked. Earlier this year he won his first U21 cap for Belgium.
A highly regarded defensive midfielder who styles himself on Sergio Busquests and Fernandino, Lavia joined Saints for a fee of around £10 million.
|Joe comes from Nigerian stock but grew up in South London. He joined the Kinetic Academy and learned close control playing cage football in his teens. His first club was Staines Town but during his first season he had a successful trial at Charlton who he joined in the summer of 2015. He didn't play for the first XI that season when Athletic were relegated to League 1.
Joe made his debut in October 2016 and during the next 3 seasons played 22, 36 then 39 times scoring 0, 6 then 10 times. He was already being scouted by clubs higher up the food chain, including Saints apparently. A personal visit from Glasgow by Steven Gerrard convinced Joe his future lay at Rangers who he joined in 2019. His 3 seasons there saw him regularly playing in the 1st team, amassing 149 games and scoring 26 goals: the last being in the Europa League Final v Eintract.
Joe is a box to box midfielder but has been deployed as both winger and striker during his career. He was called up by Nigeria in 2019 and currently has 20 caps and 2 goals (v Ukraine and Brazil!)
|Sekou's parents are French TV presenter Audrey Crespo Mara and Aliou Mara the Senegalese entrepreneur. Mara grew up in Paris and joined PSG aged 8. At 12 he left as they would not play him at centre forward, joining his local Sports Club in Boulogne.
In 2019 he joined Bordeaux and played 14 times for the B team, scoring 5 times. In 2020 he moved up to the first team squad. In his first season he scored once in 9 games but, as Bordeaux grappled with huge debts, last season he played 27 games, scoring 6, Bordeaux were relegated and, with creditors at the gate, assets were sold.
At 6ft and with a turn of pace, Mara provides a different attacking option for Saints. He has already collected 18 youth international caps for France and scored 6 times.