Southampton hero Francis Benali has revealed he would ‘love it’ if James Ward-Prowse became a ‘one-club man’.
The 26-year-old midfielder came through the Saints’ academy and has played for them on 323 occasions so far.
Aston Villa were interested in him earlier this summer and even submitted a £25million bid.
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That offer was immediately rejected by Southampton as it was seen as ‘derisory’ for a player of his quality.
Ward-Prowse has since put the transfer rumours on hold by signing a new five-year contract at St Mary’s.
“The chances of a one-club player going his entire career, potentially having a testimonial, seems to be coming more and more unlikely nowadays, doesn’t it?” Benali told the PA news agency.
“You mentioned James Ward-Prowse there – a player that there is the potential for him to be that one-club man and I would love to see it.
“It would be incredible because not only is he just such a fantastic guy away from the pitch but he’s a big driving force for the team and the captain on it as well.
“If he were to stay at Saints for his entire career, that would be amazing. That’d be incredible.
“So there’s a possibility there and especially when it’s my team it would be brilliant to see but, you’re right, I think football has become what it is today.
“There’s a lot about it that doesn’t particularly sort of sit comfortably with me in the sense that I’d like to see that loyalty in many ways – whether it be players, management, whatever, clubs themselves.
“More than what it is, a bit more like to what it was in my time. Ultimately, it is down to the player I guess.”
In a month when Aston Villa fan Jack Grealish made a £100million move to Manchester City and homegrown Tottenham striker Harry Kane looks to follow him, the subject of footballers’ commitment is a hot topic.
Speaking about his own experience at Southampton, Benali added: “I’m a boy that was born and raised here.
“I used to pinch myself almost on a daily basis that I was being paid to play football for my hometown club.
“I understood the responsibility that I had as a local lad to represent what I saw – everybody in the city and the supporters of the club.
“I still try to, I guess, carry that on in a positive way with things that I do now.”