As starters went at Southampton last year, it’s safe to say Yan Valery was perhaps one of the first names on the team sheet under Ralph Hasenhüttl.
The young Frenchman replaced Cédric Soares as the de facto right-back at St Mary’s, and even if he dropped out for a few games earlier this season, the youngster has shown exactly why the Premier League gambled on him when he was just 15 and looking for something new when leaving Rennes.
Valery was invited on RMC Sport’s weekend show PL Zone to talk about his time at the club, starting with what shocked him the most when he first arrived in England after spending his youth in France.
He said: “The infrastructures. You had a feeling you’d gone into the future. You can immediately tell the difference. The grass is really nice. There’s, like, 15 pitches at the training centre. Even the way of working is completely different. You arrive, they give you an iPad. You can watch your training. There’s everything to develop.
“After a game, you get an analysis on how you did. All the trainings. All the stats. You’ve got everything to work with and if you give everything, you’ve got no excuses. You can only progress”.
Of course, that’s him now, settled and well versed in everything Southampton, but that wasn’t always the case, as when he arrived at the tender age of 15, he didn’t speak English.
However, there was one man at the club, Sadio Mané, now at Liverpool, who took him under his wing and helped him settle in.
He explained: “At Southampton, when you’re an U18, you have to clean the boots of a player from the first-team and they give you a bit of money at Christmas. They gave me Sadio Mané because he spoke French and my English wasn’t great.
“When I went to train with them at 16 under Ronald Koeman, he translated for me and gave me tips. He gave me advice on certain words to use on the pitch that helped me in games and in the future”.