Villas-Boas hails Saints' youth academy
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Southampton's youth academy is so good that it is comparable to Barcelona's famed La Masia school.
Spurs welcome the Saints to White Hart Lane looking to register a much-needed victory that will keep the London club in the hunt for Champions League qualification. Key to that aim, of course, will be the performance of Gareth Bale.
The Welshman is one of many players - like Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana - who have come through the Southampton youth ranks and gone on to make a big impact in the Barclays Premier League. That has not gone unnoticed by Villas-Boas, who said: "Sometimes there are clubs that keep developing and nurturing players, then there are clubs that go for scouting."
Comparing Southampton to La Masia - where Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas honed their skills - may seem a little far-fetched for some, but Villas-Boas may have a point considering Bale is now regarded as one of the best players on the planet.
Villas-Boas added: "In Portugal, Sporting Lisbon is the development club and great players have come out of that school.
"They haven't produced the results in the first team as they wanted in the modern era.
"Porto invest in a later stage and don't develop the player.
"Southampton falls into the same category as Sporting Lisbon, like Barcelona, which is to nurture.
"But it is a great school of development - a bit like West Ham."