De Ridder makes Southampton exit

The midfielder had a year left on his deal at St Mary's but has agreed to leave the club in search of first-team football after falling out of favour with the Saints

Belgian midfielder Steve De Ridder has left Southampton after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The 26-year-old, who had a year left on his deal, had been with the club since 2011 after joining from De Graafschap but has now agreed to end his stay as he seeks first-team football.

He played a big part in the club's push for promotion to the Premier League in 2011-12 - netting three goals in 32 league appearances - but found himself increasingly overlooked last season.

With boss Mauricio Pochettino continuing to strengthen his squad ahead of the new campaign, De Ridder's opportunities looked to be limited again this year.

A statement on the club's official website confirmed: "Southampton Football Club and Steve De Ridder have mutually agreed to cancel the player’s contract.

"The Belgian midfielder had one year remaining on his existing terms with the club, but has elected to become a free agent in order to secure a move ahead of the new season.

"The club thanks Steve for his services over the last two seasons, and wishes him well with his future career."

De Ridder did not travel with the first-team squad on their recent trips to Spain and Austria, staying at home with the club's Under-21 team in order to maintain his fitness.

His departure marks the 11th for Southampton during the close-season, with only two new arrivals in the shape of Dejan Lovren from Lyon and Victor Wanyama from Celtic.