Luis Enrique was the biggest influence on my career - Oriol Romeu

Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu has identified Barcelona boss Luis Enrique as the coach that had the biggest influence on his career.

A youth product of Barca, Romeu, who has a starring role with the Saints, played for Luis Enrique for three years when he was in charge of the Barcelona B team.

"Luis Enrique is the coach that has been the most influential in my career," he told El Mundo Deportivo. "I was young and I needed to be pushed. I've also tried to absorb the most of Rafa Benitez, Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman.

"It has been a pleasure to have been coached by all of them."

Romeu has taken a long journey to get to where he is, with Southampton's in the Premier League.

After failing to break into Barca's first team, Romeu signed a four-year contract with Chelsea in the summer of 2011 but made just 22 appearances at Stamford Bridge before being loaned to Valencia for the 2013-14 campaign.

Romeu started only 13 La Liga games for Los Che and spent the following campaign at Stuttgart, where he made 27 Bundesliga appearances, before finally signing a three-year deal with Southampton in August 2015.

"Chelsea decided to loan me and I've had to go through different experiences in other countries," Romeu said. "I didn't enjoy myself much from a football standpoint but I learned a lot.

"You see football from a different way, you experience other cultures and you take with you positive things.

"It's true that I was looking forward to having more consistency which I have now and to prove that I can play at a high level in a good team."

The 25-year-old midfielder has started in all but one game for the Saints this season.

"I feel better than ever and I'm enjoying myself on the pitch," Romeu said. "To have more continuity, feel valued and important, makes me give my best.

"I feel in fine form physically and fighting for every ball for 90 minutes. I'm honestly very happy."

Southampton's participation in the Europa League came to an end when they finished third in Group K, level on eight points with Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva, who had a better head-to-head record.

"It was a blow to be knocked out of the Europa League," Romeu, who made five Europa League starts, said. "But now we can focus on the Premier League and on getting good results.

"Following our sixth position last season, we want to finish in the top eight, I believe that is a realistic aim."

Saints, coached by Frenchman Claude Puel, are eighth in the Premier League with 24 points from 17 games.

They are also through to the League Cup semifinal, where they will host Liverpool on Jan. 11 in the first leg.

"We are one step away from the final and although we have to overcome Liverpool, which will be a difficult rival, we hope to pull out a surprise in order to go all the way to lift the title," Romeu said.