Boss makes huge prediction as Stoke City old boy triggers £20m Premier League transfer

Taylor Harwood-Bellis has helped Southampton win promotion to the Premier League.
-Credit: (Image: Ryan Browne/REX/Shutterstock)

Former Stoke City defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis has triggered a £20 million permanent move to Southampton by helping the club win promotion to the Premier League.

Adam Armstrong's first-half goal helped Southampton to a 1-0 win over Leeds United in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Sunday. That sent them back to the top flight at the first time of asking and secured Harwood-Bellis, who had been on loan from Manchester City, a second successive promotion. He had spent the previous season at Burnley, who he helped win the title.

The deal which took him to Southampton on deadline day last summer included a clause to make it an obligation to buy for a set fee in this scenario. The 22-year-old has made 46 appearances through the season and played a key role.

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He said: "I can't put it into words, it's different because I know I'm a Southampton player now. I wanted to stay here and to know that we'll be in the Premier League and there's not even a discussion to happen now [with Man City] and to just turn up for pre-season, I can't describe that feeling.

"It's surreal (to win promotion twice in a row), both in completely different ways, I couldn't have asked for much better. Last year was so special, with a special football club that I loved to bits. This year is exactly the same, with a little more edge because I know I'm here to stay."

Harwood-Bellis got his first taste of Championship football in the second half of the 2021/22 season with Stoke. It was a vital learning curve and he wanted to return in pre-season - and was wanted back by then boss Michael O'Neill - but it was a summer window when Stoke were particularly stretched by Financial Fair Play constraints, heading towards the end of a particularly gruelling three-year cycle. Burnley and Man City legend Vincent Kompany came calling instead.

Southampton manager Russell Martin expects Harwood-Bellis, who has 23 caps for England under-21s, to go on to play for his country "many, many times".

He said: "I don't know how much we paid for him but whatever it was, it'll be worth it for sure.

"I said to him before the game, I joked to him this morning, I said that the biggest motivation for me today is that we win so you can carry on working with me and you'll be stuck with me.

"I genuinely mean it, it is one of the things I was so desperate to win today is to continue working with him. I really believe he'll go and play for his country many, many times and I hope we can help him on his journey to get there."

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