JOSE Fonte has been urged by Saints and Portugal team-mate Cedric Soares to do what makes him happy in the January transfer window, amid rumours the captain is set to depart St Mary’s.

An unsettled Fonte revealed earlier this month that he has been informed by Saints that he will not be receiving a contract extension on his current deal that expires in the summer of 2018.

The long-serving central defender was offered improved terms on his existing contract, but told the Daily Echo that he and his representative, super agent Jorge Mendes, were “entitled to say no” to that proposal.

Subsequently, speculation has been rife that Fonte, 33, will depart when the market opens in January, with Everton and Manchester United both supposedly showing interest.

Although, in his press conference ahead of today's match against West Bromwich Albion, St Mary's chief   Claude Puel indicated he had no intention of letting his skipper go next month.

Cedric, who won the European Championship with Portugal alongside Fonte last summer, has stated that his compatriot and close friend should “do the best for himself” next month.

“I hope he makes the best decision for himself, for his life, because, of course, I like to play next to him, but I really want him to be successful,” said the Saints right-back.

“Whatever is good for him, I will be okay – I will feel happy for him, but of course it’s amazing to play next to him.

“I’ve known him for a long time now and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I will keep enjoying that if possible, when I play next to him.”

After the European Championship triumph, the 25-year-old admitted there was interest from elsewhere in his own signature.

However, he revealed that he wanted to repay the “love” shown to him by Saints by signing a new four year contract last August.

The £4.7m signing from Sporting Lisbon, who joined in June 2015, wants Fonte, who has been a colossus in Saints’ rise from League One to established Premier League outfit, to make the right decision on his future, even it’s a tough one to make.

“If he feels happy, I will be happy with the situation,” said Cedric. “It’s his life and he needs to do the best for himself.

“He needs to be smart and to try and do the best for his career as well.”

Fonte recently spoke of his disappointment and frustration at not playing a single minute of Saints’ unsuccessful Europa League group stage campaign after he “worked really hard” for the privilege.

But despite that clear despondency Cedric insists that he hasn’t given off any negative vibes and has always stayed a “positive” figurehead throughout this term.

“He’s massive,” said Cedric. “Even when he stays outside of the team, he is positive. He helps his team-mates. This is his job and he does it very well.

“He’s someone we need to follow because he’s a very good professional and a very good captain.

“Jose is an amazing professional and he will always work hard.”

“Jose is a good guy that is very used to the Premier League,” he added. “He’s our captain and he’s Portuguese.

"He has this mix between being here a few years and already he’s from Portugal and shares some culture with me.

“It’s amazing to have him as a colleague, to be playing next to him. It’s a great feeling.”

Unlike the speculation that has swirled around Fonte and Virgil van Dijk in recent months, there is no such talk over Cedric’s future, with the attacking full-back “fully committed” to life on the south coast.

Southampton is an amazing club. I had a good season and in the summer, of course, there were teams interested, but I’m fully committed with the club,” he said.

“Southampton showed me the love and I showed them my commitment as well and I will keep trying to do my best.

“I will try to do my best every week and to show them that they made a good choice.”

Cedric is pleased with his performance levels.

He said: "I’m totally adapted to the Premier League. I’m totally adapted to the players, to the way we play and of course I really enjoy it.

“When you play good and have a good season people recognise that and give you compliments. That’s what we really like and appreciate in football.”