Nathan Tella came through the Arsenal academy system, signing for the club at the age of six, but he was released in 2017 after the club opted not to offer him a professional contract.
The youngster had to go out on trials with various clubs including Reading and Norwich City, before eventually earning a contract at Southampton.
Six years later, Tella has really turned things around. On Friday, David Ornstein reported that Bayer Leverkusen had reached an agreement with Southampton to sign Tella for £20m and a sell-on clause.
Bayer Leverkusen have since confirmed the transfer, announcing that Tella has been handed a five-year deal with the club.
Tella had spent the last season on loan with Burnley in the Championship, scoring 19 goals in all competitions as the side achieved promotion back to the Premier League.
With parent club Southampton getting relegated, Tella ended up back in the Championship at the start of the current campaign, scoring once and assisting once in the opening three games.
But the winger didn’t have to wait long to make the top-flight upgrade he arguably earned last season, with Bayer Leverkusen offering him the chance to play in the Bundesliga.
Tella has talked in the past about his release by Arsenal, and how it left him feeling embarrassed.
“I couldn’t believe it, Arsenal was all I knew from the age of 6 when I got scouted,” Tella said.
“For me, it was a bit of an embarrassment because I didn’t know how I was going to tell all my friends and family that I was leaving Arsenal.
“It was tough because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Maybe stay at Arsenal, try to force their hand and make another decision, or if I was to go out on trials.”
“I spoke to my family, I spoke to my agent they said it’s best to go trials to see what I can do and get out of my comfort zone.
“I had trials at Reading, Norwich, then ultimately Southampton and it’s good now, I’m really enjoying it.”
Tella is now making another step up, preparing to play in a European competition for the first time.
Bayer Leverkusen have qualified for the Europa League in 2023/24, and Tella could be lining up alongside Granit Xhaka as they kick off the group stage in September.