Ralph Hasenhuttl concedes it will be extremely difficult for Southampton to unearth another Gareth Bale due to the formidable scouting networks of Europe’s top clubs.
Wales star Bale is back in the Premier League after rejoining Saints’ weekend opponents Tottenham from Real Madrid.
The 31-year-old’s glittering career, which includes two LaLiga titles and four Champions League triumphs, was launched at St Mary’s more than 14 years ago.
Saints boss Hasenhuttl believes competition for young talent in the modern era is far more intense and admits it is rare that potential superstars slip through the vast nets of football’s major sides.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to come back to what this academy once produced because you can see more and more that especially the big clubs are hunting very, very early for these big talents,” said Hasenhuttl.
“Even there you have, as a small club, no chance to get them anymore.
“Because of this, the younger players at even 15, 16, it’s too late to get them in. You have to have real luck to find somebody who is not shining too much that immediately a big club takes him.
“They are very, very aggressive in this market. You can see it in Germany, it’s all over the world now that they are hunting for the big talents.
“They see that it is sometimes cheaper to get a young lad in paying for him maybe a few million and not 50 when he is famous. This is the reason why a lot of teams do this and then it’s difficult for us to find them.
“What we can do is what we have with our knowledge, with our expertise in every part of this club is to develop them in a way that is a little bit different, playing a different style but that can make you a very big player even if you don’t have the highest talent.”
Bale broke into Southampton’s senior team in April 2006 aged just 16 and became a regular during the 2006-07 campaign.
He was named Football League Young Player of the Year at the end of his breakthrough season, with his performances at left-back helping Saints reach the Championship play-offs under George Burley.
Spurs snapped him up in the summer of 2007 and, after six seasons of development at White Hart Lane, he moved to Madrid for a then-world record transfer of around £86million in 2013.
Bale will not be able to feature this weekend after returning to Spurs on loan on Saturday evening, and the north London club expect him to be out until after October’s international break as he rebuilds his match fitness.
Hasenhuttl believes the high-profile signing is a major boost for English football.
“I think it is fantastic for the Premier League when very good players are coming to the league,” said the Austrian.
“It’s a sign of this league that everyone wants to play in the strongest league in the world.
“It’s definitely a good signal for everybody that there are teams that invest money for getting those players.
“We cannot do this – that’s a pity. It would be interesting to have a player with this speed in our side but we don’t have the money for this. But I find it good.”
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