MAYA Yoshida is set to stay at Saints amid interest from a club in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh-based outfit Al Hilal, the Saudi Arabian champions, held an interest in the long-serving Saints centre-back earlier this month.

However, Yoshida is said to be settled in England and there are no plans for the Japan international to make the switch to the Middle East.

Having helped Saints to Premier League survival, the 29-year-old is now preparing for the World Cup in Russia next month and will be keen to avoid the disruption of a move to Saudi Arabia as he prepares for his second appearance at the competition.

Yoshida is Japan’s vice captain and, having joined Saints in 2012, has made the most Premier League appearance of any player from his homeland.

Having spent six years on the south coast, Yoshida has a settled family life in the Winchester area and, after signing a three-year contract at St Mary’s last summer, is tied to Saints until 2020.

Yoshida was signed in 2012 from Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo for £3m when Saints were promoted to the Premier League under Nigel Adkins and has become something of a cult hero.

He played 28 games for Saints in a very difficult season in 2017/18 but also had a period sidelined with injury.

With 129 appearances, no other Japanese player has made more Premier League appearances than Yoshida.

He has been an important influence in the St Mary’s dressing room recently, given he’s one of the elder statesmen in the squad.

Certainly he is an example to others, having fought for his place and made the most his opportunities.

Yoshida is now in Japan ahead of the World Cup next month and has been pictured on social media having dinner with Saints owner Gao Jisheng.