CEDRIC has his sights set on leaving Saints once his contract ends next summer.

The Portuguese international has forced his way back into Ralph Hasenhuttl’s starting XI this season after being sent out on loan to Italy last January.

Given that, on the whole, he hasn’t been central to Hasenhuttl’s plans, it’s unlikely a new contract would have been offered to the defender.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Cedric said: “I have just this season left.

“Everyone wants to know about their future, but I try not to focus too much about it because if you are doing your job and doing it properly you don’t need to worry about this.

“This is something for your agent. Obviously, Southampton is very important in my career and always will be.

“But right now, after this season I think I am going to make another step and see what is the best for me.

“It’s a great opportunity and it’s something [being out-of-contract] that maybe happens once in your life for a player.”

Cedric joined Saints back in 2015 from Sporting Lisbon and has so far made 118 appearances for the St Mary’s side.

He played 27 times in his first season which saw him earn a spot in the Portugal team for Euro 2016 – a tournament they would go on to win.

The 28-year-old revealed that following his country’s success, he was offered numerous deals to leave Saints.

“Obviously when you win the Euros you are more exposed to other clubs as well,” added Cedric.

“But they [Saints] showed the commitment; I showed the commitment.

 “There were a few transfer offers. A few things going on. I had opportunities to go but the club decided together with me that maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do and we went from there.

“We started again. It ended up with me and Virgil both staying because the goal of Southampton was to definitely go to the next level in that year.

“It didn’t happen. I understood the goal because before Southampton was more buying to sell but they wanted to stop doing that, they had new investors.

“But it was a tough season although, thankfully, we ended up staying in the Premier League and that was the most important thing.”

Cedric was one of the first players to leave on loan when Hasenhuttl arrived at the club last December.

His place in the team was taken away, with Yan Valery replacing him and becoming the poster boy for Hasenhuttl’s revolution.

The former Sporting player had to wait until January before sealing a loan move to Inter Milan for the remainder of the season.

After passing on their option to buy the defender permanently, Cedric returned to Saints in the summer and participated in pre-season.

Hasenhuttl wiped his slate clean and offered him a second chance to prove himself, which is something the 28-year-old says he is grateful for.

“Being back I was received like always and the coach has spoken positively about me.

“I didn’t expect, obviously, totally to be back. I didn’t know what would happen, but I am here now and am helping as much as I can.”

Cedric hopes his parting gift to Saints fans will be to ensure the club maintain their Premier League status at the end of the season.

He added: “It becomes very personal because having something in your career like this is something you don’t want.

“Of course you do not want to disappoint the fans. But first of all, we cannot disappoint ourselves and in that moment it becomes a kind of self-pride.

“At the end of the season, I will think more about my future and where the opportunities are but the most important is that I focus on now and do my best.”