FORMER Saints prospect Kazeem Olaigbe has revealed he felt he had to leave the club in order to further develop his professional career.

The 20 year old was highly rated by Southampton but didn't make a single senior appearance for the club before moving to Cercle Brugge this summer.

Olaigbe, a current Belgian youth international, has made eight appearances for his new club in the Pro League, scoring once.

Speaking to Belgian publication DH, the winger detailed his decision to leave Saints despite still having one year left on his contract.

He said: "I needed to really test myself as a professional and prove to myself that I could do it. Southampton didn’t want to give me a chance in the first team, so I wanted to leave.

“I will never have regrets, because each step allows you to grow and all the work accomplished will pay off one day or another.

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“In England, I learned to develop physically, to be more aggressive, but also to behave very professionally: eat well, go to sleep early, etc."

Olaigbe joined Southampton youth set up from Anderlecht as a 16 year old in 2019 and signed a contract extension in 2022, which would have kept him on the south coast until 2024.

Daily Echo:

The Belgian was nominated for the 2021-22 Premier League 2 Player of the Season award after a campaign that saw him score 12 times in 23 games for Dave Horseman's B team.

He was involved in first-team matchday squads, including Southampton's FA Cup victory over Swansea in January 2022, while also spending two loan spells away from the club.

Asked in an interview with Cercle Brugge’s club media about his decision to leave one of Belgium’s most prolific academies in order to join Saints, Olaigbe said: “I was indeed still young. 

“But at the time, Southampton was a team known for its good youth development. In that sense, it was actually a logical step. 

“I was treated very well there and I really enjoyed myself. I was able to further complete the youth series and also often played with the second team. 

“I even became player of the year there for the B team. I extended my contract in 2022. Then I was loaned out twice. The intention was to play at a higher level.”