Southampton Football Club have made their first summer signing in Polish centre-back Jan Bednarek, whilst also rewarding fellow defender Jack Stephens with a new five-year contract at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Bednarek arrives from Lech Poznan, having risen through their academy ranks before becoming a regular first-team player.
He scored a single goal in 31 appearances last season as his side finished third in the Polish top-flight, whilst also enduring heartbreak after a 2-1 loss in extra time to Arka Gdynia in the Polish Cup final.
He currently plays for Poland internationally at U-21 level, and featured against four of his new team-mates in the match against England. Bednarek appeared at every game at the tournament for his nation.
“I am so happy that I could join a club like Southampton,” commented Bednarek. “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.”
“It’s hard to leave the club that you have supported all of your life. I have a lot of friends there, but it’s football. I have one career.
“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. I think it will be a good move for me.”
Stephens rewarded with new five-year contract
With then-captain Jose Fonte departing for West Ham during the January transfer window and Dutch star Virgil Van Dijk in a poor run of fitness, Southampton were in need of plugging a rather obvious hole in the centre of defence alongside Maya Yoshida. Step forward, Jack Stephens.
The 23-year old, who has been part of Saints’ famous youth setup since 2011, made 23 appearances in all competition for the Saints last season, including an accomplished performance against Liverpool in the second-leg of the EFL Cup semi-final at Anfield.
He will now remain at the club until 2022.
After periodic loan spells to Middlesborough, Coventry and twice to Swindon, the move represents some stability for the youngster as he looks to further his ambitions of featuring regularly for the Premier League outfit.
“Obviously I am absolutely delighted to extend my stay,” said Stephens.
“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.
“The club has helped and supported me for six years and I know that will continue over the next five years, and that was a massive reason for me signing the extension.”
Forward Sam Gallagher has also been re-signed by the club for an additional four years after a successful loan period at then-Championship side Blackburn Rovers.